WILDLANDS, a programme of the WILDTRUST and Somkhanda Community Game Reserve are proud to collaborate with the Ranger Legacy Project – ‘The Soul of a Ranger’, an initiative by the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA), to raise the profile of Africa’s rangers and showcase their critical and diverse roles and share their stories as the guardians of wild Africa, using iconic images taken by Peter Chadwick, an internationally acclaimed and renowned conservation photographer.
Established in 1970, the GRAA is the oldest, largest and most representative ranger association in Africa with a vision to equip African rangers with the necessary capability and support to ensure protection, conservation, and where possible, restoration of Africa’s biodiversity and the continued existence of its wilderness, protected and natural areas for the benefit of present and future generations. It is due to this like-minded vision that Somkhanda has collaborated with the GRAA on this unique initiative.
The objectives of this conservation photography project are to raise the profile of Africa’s rangers, highlight the challenges rangers face, and ultimately increase ranger support by influencing policy and raising funds to benefit them. While the roles of the rangers have been typically portrayed as just wildlife and terrestrial guardianship, it is important to note that these roles stretch far beyond this and include firefighting, alien plant removal, biological monitoring, community engagement, human-wildlife conflict mitigation, and emergency response to mention but a few.
Peter Chadwick, an experienced ranger himself with over 30 years in terrestrial and marine environments in over 21 countries, has vast strategic and operational conservation experience and was the obvious choice to lead the image collection. He has a deep understanding of the challenges and issues faced by African rangers. Peter recently visited Somkhanda Game Reserve, as part of this initiative, to capture the rangers of this community owned reserve.
“Rangers are the guardians of wild Africa and its precious natural resources. It is about time that rangers are recognised for their critical and diverse conservation work that benefits species, habitats, ecosystems and people,” comments Andrew Campbell, GRAA CEO.
To date, images captured by Peter Chadwick for use by the GRAA have been obtained on an ad-hoc basis and success was achieved in raising the profile of the ranger with some benefit reaching the Ranger Support Programme. To maximise the opportunity to raise both the profile of the ranger and improve ranger support, this project needs dedicated funding with dedicated time. We are therefore calling out to all potential funders and supporters to help us, together with GRAA, to raise more funds to capture and begin to change the narrative and image of the ranger. They are real people, they are the guardians of wild Africa, working against all odds in beautiful and remote wild places. Rangers work for nature in the frontlines of conservation, and they need our support.