Celebrating Life-Bison Rangers and Sturgeon Watchers on World Ranger Day | WWF

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Celebrating Life-Bison Rangers and Sturgeon Watchers on World Ranger Day

Every day, countless men and women put their lives at peril to protect the nature we all depend on.

World Ranger Day: Every day, countless men and women put their lives at peril to protect the nature we all depend on. Together, the global community must show solidarity, and let them know that we stand with them, their families and the communities they work alongside. Here are a couple stories celebrating the work of rangers cooperating on WWF-CEE projects.
 
Life Bison Rangers
Challenging and rewarding, a bison transport is a wave of emotions for our bison rangers in the Southern Carpathians of Romania. They meticulously start preparing for the next transport months ahead, repairing wooden fences, checking electric fences, and making sure the road is clear and ready for receiving the huge truck that transports the grand and vulnerable bison to their new home.  On the day, pressure mounts as they patiently wait and guide the bison into the acclimatization area. Rangers look upon the new arrivals with pride and hope. They know that they will spend countless hours monitoring them. The rangers will recognise the new arrivals in the wild, amongst others, as they care for them from afar.  Empathy with animals and the community, courage, hard work – a ranger’s days are all this and so much more. The bison are lucky indeed to have such guardians overseeing their return to the wild.
 
Sturgeon Watchers
WWF-Ukraine organised its traditional Sturgeon Watch mission 5 July - 10 July, this year in a much-reduced form due to quarantine restrictions. Only two, but very motivated volunteers were chosen to join the Panda Team and rangers from the Danube Biosphere Reserve in their work to protect Danube sturgeons. Volunteers and WWF-Ukraine closely cooperated with rangers and even lived together in their houses on an island in the Danube. Together, they patrolled the river for sturgeon poachers, checked fishermen and conducted scientific fishing.
 
One of the tasks for the Watchers and scientists was to find and register young sturgeon. Of course, there were hopes to find small belugas recently released in Bulgaria, but these dreams did not come true. However, small stellate sturgeons were caught and released, which indicated the successful spawning of this species this year.
 
In addition, volunteers and rangers searched for prohibited fishing gear and checked fish catches. It was the first time since Sturgeon Watchers began in 2017 that we had the possibility to visit fishermen at a special station where they sell fish to the fishing companies. The project team and volunteers had a long conversation with fishermen, discussed their work, perspective for sturgeons, new laws, and the work of inspectors. It was very important for both sides to gain a better mutual understanding.
 
No poachers were caught during this patrol, but long-term cooperation between WWF-Ukraine and Law Enforcement to save sturgeons, the most endangered species group on the planet, was strengthened.
 
Sturgeon Watch is a unique WWF-Ukraine volunteer project which has no analogues in Europe. It is part of the LIFE-funded sturgeon project “LIFE for Danube Sturgeons,” and is aimed at involving volunteers in conjunction with law enforcement agencies to monitor the migration of young sturgeon from upstream spawning grounds to ensure unobstructed access down to the Black Sea. The original idea of Sturgeon Watchers was borrowed from the volunteer programme for the conservation of spawning sites on the Wolf River, Wisconsin, USA, and was adapted to the Ukrainian situation in 2017.
 
Challenging and rewarding, a bison transport is a wave of emotions for our bison rangers in the Southern Carpathians of Romania.