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World Ranger Day celebrates wildlife heroes

Rangers, trackers and others who protect wildlife every day in the field are the frontline heroes of conservation. Their work is challenging, difficult and often dangerous but their devotion to protecting wildlife is critical to the health of the world’s ecosystems.

Here at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, we are proud to have teams of dedicated gorilla trackers, who navigate dense and remote forests every day to protect endangered gorillas.

Tracker with Gorillas
Tracker Conseiller recording data on gorillas.

In Rwanda, our trackers monitor groups of gorillas that are habituated to the presence of human observers, so we are able to collect detailed information on their status and behaviors. This is the work that Dian Fossey started 55 years ago!

Since 2000, we have also been protecting the critically endangered Grauer’s gorillas in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Here the gorillas are not used to the presence of humans, so we follow and protect them from a distance, with our tracker teams rotating living in the forest for several weeks at a time.

Rangers and trackers face challenges, dangers

World Ranger Day is held on July 31 and celebrates not only the work of these courageous men and women but also commemorates the many who have died or been injured in the line of their work. These losses are sometimes a result of the inherently dangerous physical conditions rangers face, but in many parts of the world they also face poachers and armed militia groups as well. Some estimates put the losses at more than 1,000 park rangers in the past 10 years.

At the Fossey Fund, we take this time to remember our tracker Esdras Nsengiyumva, who was killed in 2012 during an attack on one of our anti-poaching camps.

Tracker Pelagie recording data on gorillas.

In nearby Virunga National Park in DRC, more than 200 rangers who protect this area, which is more than 3,000 square miles in size, have been killed in the past 20 years, due to ongoing civil unrest and rebel groups in some sectors.

Gorillas and their critical forest habitats would not be surviving today without these courageous trackers. They are truly nature’s protectors, as are all rangers around the world. All of us here at the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund are deeply grateful for their work.

Fossey Fund's longest-serving trackers.

Jean Damascene Hategekimana – tracking gorillas with the Fossey Fund since 1993.
Fidele Mugiraneza
Fidele Mugiraneza – tracking gorillas with the Fossey Fund since 1995.
Felicien Kanyarungano
Felicien Kanyarugano – tracking gorillas with the Fossey Fund since 1997.