By Carter Roberts
There are few jobs more dangerous than those of park rangers protecting wildlife in Africa. For those individuals, whose job it is to monitor and protect the continent's majestic wildlife, the gravest danger of all comes from illegal wildlife traffickers who trade in nature's masterpieces. Every year, wildlife worth billions of dollars is bought and sold around the world -- and the rarer the prize, the higher the price.
Rangers and other frontline wildlife protectors are outgunned, outmanned and paying a heavy toll to feed an ever-growing demand, mostly from Asia, for animal parts. Species such as elephants and rhinos are being massacred for nothing nobler than vacation trinkets, hangover remedies and false promises of miracle cancer cures.
According to The Thin Green Line Foundation, 1,000 rangers lost their lives in the line of duty over the past decade. That's one ranger murdered every four days.
These rangers received a critical boost when President Obama announced major new steps to help stem the illegal wildlife trade, including the development of a Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking and $10 million in critical new support for regional and bilateral assistance in Africa. The president's Executive Order gives those on the ground critical help and comes on the heels of action by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and current Secretary of State John Kerry to make this issue a top priority.
"Poaching and trafficking is threatening Africa's wildlife," President Obama said during a recent state visit to Tanzania. His Executive Order pointed out how poaching operations have expanded beyond small-scale, opportunistic actions to coordinated slaughter commissioned by armed and organized criminal syndicates. More....