Aboriginal and African rangers swap stories in fight to protect endangered wildlife

Source: Cool Green Science - The Nature Conservancy

 
Would you rather be bitten by a poisonous snake or shot by an armed poacher?

These are the difficult questions African wildlife ranger Joseph Kotoke contemplated as he weighed up the differences between his job back home and the challenges faced by Aboriginal rangers in Australia.

“I’m really scared of snakes, I’d prefer dealing with a poacher than a snake!” he said.

Earlier this year, Mr Kotoke and his tribe of Maasai community rangers met with nine Indigenous rangers and musician Dan Sultan in Kenya, Africa to swap knowledge, culture and music.

The documentary, Ranger To Ranger, will be released this weekend detailing the group’s entire journey.

Mr Kotoke said he risks his life every day in his job protecting endangered rhinoceros from poachers.

“For them to kill a rhino, they have to get rid of the rangers first — they have to kill you to get the rhino,” he said.

“They’re armed with AK-47 or some big guns. It’s a very risky job to do.

“You have a family, you have a wife, kids, and you’re dealing with armed gangs, you’re dealing with dangerous animals like lions, rhinos, buffalos, elephants.

“You think: ‘What will happen to my family if I lose my life here?'”

Mr Kotoke said meeting Aboriginal wildlife rangers was a comforting experience.

“Most of the rangers back home don’t know that there are some rangers in Australia doing the same work, going through protecting their flora and fauna,” he said.

“That is something that has touched every ranger, knowing ‘I’m not the only one doing this’.”

A life-changing experience

Imran Paddy is one of the youngest wildlife rangers in his community of Warmun in Australia’s north-west.

He said travelling to Africa had been life-changing.

“I learnt that those guys over there are really hard workers,” he said.

“Same like myself, I’m really passionate about my job.

“They take pride in their job.”

Mr Paddy said conservation was one of the biggest challenges in Australia.

“Everybody takes too much bush food from the land, it happens all over the Kimberley,” he said.

“We need to maintain it for future generations.

“We don’t have poachers around here. I guess (the main issue) is just tourists going onto land without permission, camping and littering.”

The pair discovered some striking cultural similarities, including the way African and Aboriginal people raised their children.

“Elders in the community train the boys to be responsible men,” Mr Kotoke said.

“Also, it’s the way of living.

“We still live in our own traditional culture — no matter if you are educated or not, you still live traditional.”

The documentary premieres at Perth Zoo on Saturday night.

Source :

abc.net

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