World Ranger Day: An Interview with Tom Amey, EcosystemImpact Foundation
World Ranger Day is celebrated worldwide on July 31st to commemorate and celebrate the work Rangers do to protect the planet’s natural treasures and cultural heritage.
Tom Amey is the Director of Social and Environmental Programmes of EcosystemImpact Foundation and oversees their Bangkaru Ranger Programme.
Tell us more about the Bangkaru Ranger Programme.
The Bangkaru Ranger Project is a community ranger project based on Bangkaru Island, off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. The island’s only human inhabitation is the ranger camp which is home to 3-6 rangers at all times. The Bangkaru Rangers carry out daily anti-poaching patrols whilst monitoring and collecting data on the island’s Endangered and Critically Endangered bird species. Due to the successful running of the project for over 20 years—with EcosystemImpact managing since2019—Bangkaru’s biodiversity remains intact to levels incomparable within the region.
What do the community rangers do on a daily basis?
The rangers maintain twice-daily patrols, one in the morning and evening/night, and one bird focused forest patrol and transect each shift, along with newly implemented monthly boat patrols. The presence of rangers and their ability to patrol and enforce the law acts as a powerful poacher deterrent. They also collect data on Endangered and Critically Endangered species, thus furthering the scientific understanding of each species and informing their species conservation management of these species, both on Bangkaru and elsewhere. The rangers also help increase awareness of conservation and wider environmental issues within the communities surrounding Bangkaru Island through monthly education sessions and the continued running of the Local Ranger project component, which allows members of the local community to join the project and learn about conservation.
Could you share with us some of the challenges faced by EcosystemImpact’s rangers?
EcosystemImpact’s rangers are the front line of our conservation action, they often live in remote and isolated places and often carry out dangerous tasks.
With Bangkaru and Selaut Islands being a 2- and 4-hours boat ride from the nearest village, the rangers have to stay away from their families in the remote ranger camps for 2 weeks at a time. The rangers can also encounter threatening situations, and the Project’s success has been a long hard-fought battle. When asked about how the project has developed and successfully reduced poaching Uzhar, Bangkaru’s Ranger Coordinator, recounted a particularly challenging experience: “25 poachers were on the shore and two people chased us with a machete… Every night we met poachers. People hated us – the new rangers. But every time we went home, we would report the poaching information back to the head of the Foundation, BKSDA and the police.”
- Read more about the Bangkaru Ranger Programme
- Read more about the “Bangkaru Island Hidden Treasures: Save Bangkaru’s Critically Endangered Bird Species” project, supported by the ASAP Species Conservation Grants
Featured image by Paul Hilton