A SANParks Honorary Ranger initiative in collaboration with SANParks
What is Ranger Embrace?
Field rangers in our national parks are real life heroes. They are driven individuals who chose careers in conservation, but have been compelled to broaden their responsibilities to include anti-poaching and law-enforcement activities. They are dedicated, resilient individuals who work in teams to conserve and protect our natural heritage.
A ranger’s job is not an easy one. Rangers may experience hardships and challenges few of us can begin to fathom. How many of us know what it would be like to monitor poaching activities in dangerous big five country for days on end, with only the bare essentials to live on; or assist at the scene of an accident or suicide; or fight a fire in inaccessible areas for hours at a time; or confront poachers after watching a rhino being poached?
This work requires exceptional inner strength, courage and motivation. Despite being real life heroes, field rangers are human beings too. They may feel cold, hungry, tired, scared, lonely and doubtful at times. The extreme difficulty of their work can cause burn-out and stress, often with traumatic consequences – but a ranger who is healthy in body, mind and spirit is better equipped to protect life, limb and wildlife.
To support the well-being of our rangers, SANParks approached the SANParks Honorary Rangers (SHR) to assist them to “Embrace” the rangers. This partnership is proving to be a perfect match – the SHR has the members, the skills, the passion and the commitment to get involved and make a difference.
The mandate of Project Embrace is to present a Pro-active, Preventative Trauma & Stress Management Programme to field rangers and their family members.
Members of the SANParks Honorary Rangers who have qualifications in human sciences and proven experience in trauma work, form core teams to facilitate this process.
A team of 26 members is currently providing this service in five of our national parks. The goal is to visit each park three to four times per year on an ongoing basis. SANParks requested us to expand Embrace to four more Parks in the near future.
Ranger Embrace is intended to complement Ranger Wellness programmes. The programme is being implemented with a holistic, multi-pronged and disciplined approach to effectively address the needs of the rangers and their extended families on various levels.
Angarhelani Mindyangu (Embrace Families) is an annual event in the Kruger National Park. This ‘spouses day’ is a highlight, giving us the opportunity to interact with rangers’ partners, to thank them for being there for the rangers, and to equip them with life skills, where needed.
Want to get involved?
A budget of R100 000 per anum is required to expand and implement Project Embrace in national parks. Any contribution to this worthwhile project will make a very big difference to the lives and well-being of our rangers, in support of the vital work they do to conserve and protect our natural heritage.