South Africa is a country blessed with an incredibly rich natural heritage. From the iconic Table Mountain with its unique floral community in the South, up to the mystical Mapungubwe cultural landscape with its golden rhino in the North. From the Kruger National Park bristling with wildlife in the East, all the way across the country to the rich desolation of the Richtersveld in the West. This heritage belongs to, and is the responsibility of, the people of this great country. Much of this heritage is conserved in our national parks.
The SANParks Honorary Rangers is the chosen South African National Parks volunteer organization. It offers all South Africans the opportunity to be involved in the conservation and promotion of our twenty one national parks. With thirty one regions spread across the country and more than a thousand three hundred members, the SANParks Honorary Rangers movement offers support in all our national parks.
The work of the SANParks Honorary Rangers
The Honorary Rangers perform a wide variety of support functions. Practical involvement in parks is an important part of the services offered. This includes activities such as fence patrols in Addo National Park, taking vacationers on rock pool explorations in Tsitsikamma NP, restoring a historic farmhouse in Agulhas NP, organizing a marathon in Marakele NP and taking underprivileged children to parks such as Bontebok and Kruger National Park.
With many highly skilled and experienced members the organization offers a skills base on which SANParks can depend for specialist support. Members are involved in activities such as assisting in the technical revision of the parks management plans, ecological studies and providing architectural skills in the design of infrastructure projects.
The movement is also involved in a variety of fundraising and public education activities, spreading the conservation message and offering business and civil societies the opportunity to support conservation in our parks. The SANParks Honorary Rangers is the SANParks’ preferred fundraising channel.
Relationship with SANParks
The movement works according to an official agreement with SANParks and its focus is determined by SANParks priorities nationally and in the local park. The movement annually reports to SANParks and provides SANParks with audited financial reports. It is however an independent organization, with its own independent management structures elected by the members. It is a registered public benefit and non-profit organization and manages its own finances. It can provide companies with tax certificates to acknowledge donations made to the conservation cause.
All honorary rangers are volunteers who are motivated by their love of nature and driven by a passion for the conservation cause. No member gets paid for doing duty. The reward is in the knowledge that they have made a contribution to the benefit of our national parks.
Members come from all walks of life and each one contributes in his own unique way by donating skills, time and knowledge. Honorary rangers do not need to have a nature conservation background, though many members are qualified in conservation related disciplines.
The rhino poaching scourge has hit home in the last four years with 668 rhino being poached in 2012 alone and the brutal number standing at more than 200 at the start of April 2013. Horrible scenes of these magnificent giants having been mutilated for their horns, often still alive, has horrified all good people. The terrible threat of extinction is rearing its ugly head and can become a real possibility if the situation continues to grow.
The majority of poaching is performed by people experienced in bush craft and warfare. These are skilled and ruthless criminals who are heavily armed and willing to kill to get their prize. This has forced conservation authorities to completely change the way counter poaching activities are managed. There is heavy pressure on resources, since rangers needs to be re-trained, equipped and supported in a low level poaching war.
SANParks has turned to the SANParks Honorary Rangers as their key strategic partner in generating the resources necessary to fight this war.
“The SANParks Honorary Rangers corps is an indispensable vital pillar of the SANParks machinery in the fight against rhino poaching. I personally acknowledge and appreciate the enormous contributions made by our Honorary Ranger colleagues in the form of personal time, driving campaigns like “Unite Against Poaching”, financial and equipment donations. These interventions and many more not listed in my letter have made significant differences. The question that begs an honest answer is “how many rhinos would have been lost if these interventions did not happen?” The answer is too aghast to contemplate.” – Dr David Mabunda, CEO SANParks
The SANParks Honorary Rangers movement is entirely volunteer run and therefore has the ability to guarantee that every sent raised will be used to support our rangers’ needs. No funds are syphoned off from donations to be used for other purposes such as administration or salaries.
Because of the close cooperation with the counter poaching teams on the ground in parks such as Kruger National Park, the SANParks Honorary Rangers is the organization best positioned to provide effective support for the counter poaching effort on the ground in our national parks.
Over the last four years the Honorary Rangers has provided support to the value of R17 million to the counter poaching effort. Through projects such as Unite Against Poaching they have succeeded in providing rangers with training and the necessary equipment for the poaching effort. Tracking dog teams have been introduced in to Kruger and high tech equipment, such as night vision equipment and GPS systems, have been donated.
The need remains huge and the Honorary Rangers are committed to raise a further 10 million over the next year to fund the current key priority items on the counter poaching agenda. This includes the introduction of more dog and counter poaching teams, improved access control to parks and improved air support for the counter poaching teams.
The SANParks Honorary Rangers is always looking for new members and supporters who are willing to contribute to the SANParks cause. People who are willing to give themselves without expecting payment, and who associate with the culture of selfless service are welcome to apply for membership to the nearest region.
The business community can support the effort by donating and providing the necessary services needed to support the work in our national parks.
For more information visit www.sanparksvolunteers.org
The SANParks Honorary Rangers offer every nature lover and every proud South African the opportunity to become involved in the support of our national heritage.