Cameroon’s Rangers still facing serious threats on the frontline
The two rangers were shot, Zomedel to death leaving a family behind and Mamendji left with grievous wounds that led to permanent disability. These and many other examples show the risks rangers face in their quest to protect Cameroon’s wildlife heritage, with yet some great successes such as the seizures of 216 and 106 elephant tusks in December 2017 and May 2018 respectively in the locality of Djoum (South Cameroon) after having resisted bribes and other corrupt attempts.
A microcosm of the multiple problems the over 900 rangers in Cameroon face including lack of arms and other basic working tools, poor working conditions, poor pay and no appropriate insurance cover, were re-echoed in the results of a ranger perception survey conducted by WWF in 17 countries worldwide including Cameroon between October 2016 and July 2018. The survey revealed that a high proportion of rangers lack adequate shelter, clean water, boots and clothing. It found that globally one in four wildlife rangers had contracted a serious disease such as malaria and suffered serious injuries in relation to their job in the last year because of insufficient training and poor equipment. It recommended, “Adequate insurance coverage (to a living wage) must be provided for all rangers – or their families in the case of death.”
WWF has been supporting rangers in Cameroon for the past 20 years and more. The conservation organization supports training and equipping of rangers to enable them carry out field operations. Recently WWF advocated for the accession of the Cameroon Rangers Association to the International Rangers Federation (IRF), a non-profit organization established to raise awareness of and support the critical work that rangers do in conserving the world’s natural and cultural heritage.
Roger Bruno Tabue Mbobda, President of the Cameroon Rangers Association believes membership with the International Federation will foster professional exchanges between rangers. “Membership of the IRF will enable us to adequately represent Cameroon’s rangers’ interests through close co-operation with other international organizations,” Tabue says. The Cameroon Ranger Association, he says, needs the unwavering support of people of goodwill concerned with the state of health of our planet.
According to Alain Ononino, WWF Head of Policy for the Central Africa Wildlife Crime Program, to improve the wellbeing of rangers, governments must take adequate steps to implement the recommendations of the ranger perception survey in relation to further professionalizing the ranger sector which include reviewing and improving training curricula and facilitating the building of trust between rangers, and indigenous peoples and local communities. “Governments should act fast to improve rangers’ safety, guarantee their access to basic necessities, improve the availability and quality of emergency medical care, provide 100 per cent insurance coverage for serious injury or death and improve the availability of essential equipment such as communications devices amongst others,” Ononino says.
WWF will continue to advocate and provide adequate technical and financial support to the Governments in this regard and work towards improved participatory community engagement in park surveillance.