Whilst on safari we purposefully speak a lot to our rangers and safari guides who adore the animals. It’s more than a job to them – they love and protect the animals. You can see it in the way they talk about them – so tender, so caring. They are so angry about poachers and disrespectful tourists. They believe that the parks of Africa should be a sanctuary for animals, and only people who respect and help protect that should be allowed in. I agree wholeheartedly with this.
They also get excited about the animals – despite them seeing them day in day out, they still love the close encounters, the near misses and the rare encounters. They carry and use cameras. They have a real sense of pride, and their respect and enthusiasm for the animals is infectious. I cannot recall the amount of times we’ve come back from safari wishing we could up sticks, train as rangers and live a life in the bush with the animals. That’s the dream!
The Maasai and Samburu tribsepeople we have spoken too are also respectful of the animals. They live harmoniously with them but do not interfere with the animals. The only time I have seen and heard of conflict is when protected land prevents them from farming and gazing cattle. The tourist organisations and camps / lodges do a good job of employing locals, thus reaffirming that the animal’s protection can generate income (an animal is worth far more alive than dead).
If you’d like to know more about life as a game ranger I can recommend the following book and website:
- Dangerous Beauty: Life and Death in Africa: True Stories from a Safari Guide by Mark. C. Ross. It’s harrowing, engaging and terrifying. You’ll find yourself sobbing and dreaming in equal measures.
- Ranger Diaries at http://www.rangerdiaries.com/
Read both of these at your peril…it could prompt a career change 🙂