Throughout Africa, there are numerous anti-poaching units, comprised of rangers and scouts, who are on the frontline of the poaching war.
These men and women fearlessly put their lives on the line every single day, working tirelessly to protect our wildlife and wild areas from threats like poaching, human-wildlife conflict, illegal extraction of resources, and damage to protected areas. Rangers around the world have a huge role to play in the fight to save our planet. Their actions matter and their tireless efforts will continue to make a difference. Without them, our natural world would look very different.
This year on World Ranger Day, a day for commemorating fallen rangers and celebrating the efforts of those that are currently on the frontline, we want to celebrate and honour the Malilangwe Scouts, one of the many teams of rangers we have spent time with.
By sharing more about this team, we want to highlight and celebrate the critical work rangers are doing globally.
The Malilangwe Trust was established over 20 years ago and has a core focus on harmonizing conservation activities, community development programs, and eco-tourism.
The Trust now protects over 130,000 acres of wilderness land in Southern Africa, which is home to globally significant populations of both black and white rhinos, as well as other critically endangered and threatened species.
In the early ’90s, rhino poaching had reached crisis-level and these incredible prehistoric species were on the brink of extinction. The black rhino population, in particular, had declined by 96% in the previous two decades.
The newly established Malilangwe Trust formed an anti-poaching strategy based on seven fundamental pillars of management – leadership, intelligence, funding, recruitment, training, strategic development, and community engagement – to fight back against illegal poaching and restore and maintain wildlife populations and ecosystems in this region.
In the last twenty years, this anti-poaching strategy and the dedicated team of Malilangwe Scouts have seen great success with numbers of both species of rhino growing substantially from their initial founder populations.
After meeting the Malilangwe Scouts, it was easy for us to recognize why this team has been so successful; they are more than just scouts working together, they are a family.
“To become a scout, you have to be honest, you have to be disciplined, you have to be someone with love.”
There are many qualities needed to be a successful scout, the training is vigorous and often grueling, and the job can be demanding and dangerous. As Darlington said, scouts need to be honest, brave and dedicated, but more importantly, they need to have love; love for their job, love for the natural world, and love for their fellow team members. This love is what stood out when we met the Malilangwe Scouts, there is so much unity amongst these men. Being a scout is so much more than just a job to them, they are all driven by a collective sense of purpose to protect the natural world for future generations.
These wildlife protectors are at the center of conservation efforts and we all benefit from their service. Sadly, over 100 rangers throughout Africa lose their lives every year in the war against poaching.
In honor of World Ranger Day, we want to encourage you to make a difference by supporting a ranger.
All contributions, no matter how small go a long way in providing the necessary training, equipment, and support these rangers need to continue to fight for the protection of our wildlife and wilderness areas. Head over to the Malilangwe Trust website to learn more about how you can support the work the Malilangwe Trust scouts are doing.