The 2012 International Rangers Federation (IRF) World Rangers Congress (WRC) has come and gone and with over 260 delegates from 40 different countries, it proved to be a major success.
Held every 4 years, the WRC brings together rangers from all over the world to meet and discuss important conservation matters relating to rangers and their roles and responsibilities, as well as providing a forum for global networking. For the first time ever, the IAPF had the opportunity to join the WRC and take part in this year’s theme “Working towards healthy parks, dealing with hungry people”. The congress was held over 5 days at the beautiful Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge, just outside of Arusha in Tanzania. Delegates were welcomed with an ample supply of food and refreshments and settled in to attend many lectures, demonstrations and workshops.
Australia had a great representation of rangers from across the country including South Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania and a lot of members from Parks Victoria and the Victorian Rangers Association (VRA). Other countries included Canada & the US, Brazil, Romania, Scotland, Iceland, Sweden, Korea and many more. Africa, of course, had a great attendance with around 60 delegates from more than 10 different countries, some as far reaching as Madagascar and Sierra Leone.
As this congress was held in Africa, one of the subjects under heavy discussion was poaching. Although it is a global issue, most agreed that nothing can compare to the levels and dynamics of poaching experienced here. Various stories, opinions and issues were raised by many of the African delegates, from the poisoning of vultures, to the plight of the rhino and even the massacre of many endangered species such as the okapi and mountain gorilla of the Congo. A major thanks to the dedicated work of Jean-Pierre (Jobogo) Mirindi should be mentioned here. These guys face a daily war against poachers and rebels, often working tirelessly to protect these species and their protected areas. We all agreed on the need to support Jean-Pierre’s work more in the future and hope that him and his team remain safe. Keep up the good fight guys!
It was a great experience to meet some of these rangers for the first time as well as greet plenty of familiar faces. One such face was that of Joachim Kouame from the Ivory Coast. Joachim, as some of you may remember, was caught up in the political turmoil that affected the Ivory Coast in 2011. The Thin Green Line Foundation (TGLF) and the IAPF nearly deployed an extraction team to rescue Joachim as well as a few other rangers and their families. Luckily, things calmed down enough for Joachim to make the decision to stay. To see him safe, sound and back at work again was very inspirational for us. Joachim, your endurance, commitment and bravery is the epitome of what should drive rangers everywhere.
Joachim Kouame: Ranger from the Ivory Coast. Photo: Megan Osborn
On the final day of the congress, it was time to vote in the new IRF committee members as well as the candidates for the role of President and Vice President. As the votes were cast, it was very close but Sean Willmore from the TGLF and Wayne Lotter of the PAMS Foundation were voted in as the IRF President and Vice President respectively. Congratulations to all other committee members as well and to the VRA’s Peter Cleary for his role as Oceania representative and the Game Rangers Association of Africa’s (GRAA) Chris Galliers as African representative. Many thanks to the past IRF President Deanne Adams for her hard work and all the other past representatives who respectfully stood down after 4 great years of service to the IRF.
New IRF President Sean Willmore address the congress for the first time. Photo: Corey Jeal
As the congress wrapped up, a feeling of unity was in the air and everyone seemed eager to attend the next IRF World Congress, which will be held in Colorado, USA in 2016. We certainly hope to be there and would like to see all friends old and new once again. Special Thanks to Wayne Lotter and Krissie Clark of the PAMS Foundation for organizing and facilitating the congress, as well as the Thin Green Line Foundation for making the IAPF’s attendance possible.
Things didn’t just finish with the congress for some however. Getting on board with the IRF’s proposed “Rangers Without Borders” initiative, a small group of rangers, comprised of VRA President Peter Cleary, a ranger with the Philip Island Nature Reserve, VRA Treasurer and Conservation Biologist Megan Osborn, Ranger Corey Jeal (who some of you may know from his “Ride for Rangers” journey through Africa) and the IAPF’s James Slade, got together and joined forces with the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), to assess and provide feedback on some of the area’s conservation issues.
“Rangers without Borders” pilot initiative. (l-r) Peter Cleary, Megan Osborn, James Slade, Ngorongoro Crater rangers, Fred Barak (red t-shirt, centre), Corey Jeal, Robert Mande (far right, suit.) Photo: James Slade
This initiative was devised and facilitated by the team in order to promote the concept of “Rangers without Borders” and through the assistance of NCAA staff members Robert Mande and Fred Baraka, they where able to visit the Ngorongoro Crater and surrounding areas, witnessing first hand many of the issues faced and some of the solutions that may be implemented to address them. The full report is available to those who wish to read it. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information. This pilot project will hopefully pave the way for similar programs in which rangers around the world may visit protected and affected areas, sharing opinions, results and tactics, solidifying the bond between those working in area integrity management everywhere.
Finally, the IAPF would like to thank everyone again for this opportunity and we’re looking forward to what 2013 will bring to rangers from all over the world. Congratulations once again to Sean Willmore as the new IRF President, we’re eager to progress over the next 4 years and although it will be a long, hard road ahead we’re certain he’s up to the challenge.
The new International Ranger’s Federation Committee:
Top row (l-r); President Sean Willmore, Oceania rep. Peter Cleary, Vice-President Wayne Lotter, Asia rep. Kim Young Seok, Central America rep. Cesar Augusto Flores Lopez.
Bottom Row (l-r): European rep. Floran Halastauan, Treasurer Meg Weesner, African rep. Chris Galliers, North America rep. Jeff Ohlffs and Secretary Tegan Burton. Photo: Megan Osborn
International Rangers Federation