“Animals are for white people. Black people only walk around the fence. They never see wild animals, so why would they care about them?”
In the final episode of Wildlife Warzone, the six newly graduated rangers are risking their lives on the frontline of the battle to protect rhinos from poachers.
“At the moment, it doesn’t seem like the situation is getting any better,” admits Chrisjan. “But you know we’re not going to stop; no one’s going to go quietly; we’re going to keep fighting until the very end.”
Tumi says part of the problem is that the tourism industry has excluded the surrounding communities from the wildlife. “Animals are for white people,” he says. “Black people only walk around the fence. They never see wild animals, so why would they care about them?”
Without community support and with poaching worth $17 billion a year, being a ranger is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. “I was very scared,” admits Freddie, after he and Chrisjan ambush a poacher. “When bullets are flying, you know, one of us could be killed.”
The new rangers are discovering that dodging bullets isn’t the only occupational hazard.
“We’re giving everything, 110%, living, eating in the bush, 24 hours a day, sacrificing our social lives, our families, our girlfriends, whoever it may be waiting for us back home,” says Chrisjan. “We’re literally living in the bush, to try and save the rhinos.”
The rangers sacrifice for two reasons: the animals and each other.
“Not everyone gets a chance to live in the bush and walk with animals every single day,” says Chrisjan. “I won’t regret this ever, for the rest of my life.”
“What keeps me going is my friends,” says Gerald, referring to the other rangers. ”They are always there for me. We are living as a family. They are the ones who keep me motivated and loving this job.”
The final episode in the six-part series premieres on Al Jazeera English on Monday, 11 November at 22:30GMT, with additional screenings on Tuesdays at 9:30GMT, Wednesdays at 03:30GMT, and Thursdays at 16:30GMT.
Watch and embed:
The full third episode:
The full fourth episode:
For more information, visit http://aje.me/GRw7Nh.
ABOUT WILDLIFE WARZONE:
Wildlife Warzone explores the only thing standing between heavily-armed poachers and the decimation of a species: rangers.
The six-part Al Jazeera series follows a new batch of trainee rangers as they enter a brutal world of military training and finally head to the frontline of Africa’s Wildlife Warzone.