In 2014, Global Witness released figures that showed over nine hundred people had lost their lives working for conservation between 2002 and 2014.
The murder of conservationists has increased significantly over the past five years. Just two weeks ago, Birdwatch reported that two people working for the preservation of forests were gunned down in Cambodia. Six people who were suspected of illegally logging in the area were arrested for the murders.
Many rangers have been killed in the line of duty as they fight to save rhino and elephant in Africa. Their lives have been taken because they care about the environment. In the fight for the wildlife of our planet, every life lost is a tragedy.
Some of the high profile conservationists who have died include:
- Jairo Mora Sandoval
- Dian Fossey
- Gregory Gibbard
- George Adamson
- Ernest Gerald Gibbins
Jairo Mora Sandoval
Jairo was 26 years old when he was murdered in Costa Rica in 2013. He was working to protect leatherback turtles. On the night of 30th May, an armed gang abducted Jairo and four women volunteer workers. The women managed to escape and raised the alarm, but it was too late for Jairo. He was found beaten to death on a beach. Because of his work, Costa Rica declared more protected areas and passed a resolution allowing rangers greater powers to stop poaching of turtles.
Dian was a highly qualified American who worked with endangered gorillas in the Volcanos National Park in Rwanda. Her research of the gorillas lasted eighteen years
In December 1985, she was found dead in her cabin. She had been killed by a machete. Although the case remains open, there was no motive for robbery and it is presumed she was killed for her anti-poaching efforts
Gregory, an Australian, was one of the founding members of the Painted Dog Conservation project in Zimbabwe. The NGO operates in the Hwange National Park area where Cecil the Lion was shot in 2015.
The NGO works with one of Africa’s most endangered species, the African Wild Dog. Gregory worked closely with local communities, to get them to understand the need for conservation of the species. He and volunteers removed thousands of wire animal snares.
Although his murder in April 2015 was attributed to robbery when he was found axed to death in his cottage near the Park, such excessive violence is uncommon in the country. A man named Xmas Mpofu was arrested and charged with his murder. In this incident, the murderer was an ex-employee, apparently unhappy with his severance package.
George was the husband of famous author Joy, who wrote the book Born Free.
George joined the Kenya Game Department in 1938. When he retired in 1961, he continued to work with lion rehabilitation.
In 1989, George was murdered by Somali bandits suspected of poaching. When his assistant and a tourist were attacked by the bandits, George raced to their rescue. George was shot and killed during the incident.
Ernest Gerald Gibbins
Ernest Gibbons was an entomologist, who studied tropical diseases carried by mosquitos and black flies. In 1929, he worked with the Malaria Unit of the Uganda Medical Department.
In November 1942, Ernest was travelling to Entebbe in Uganda when his vehicle was ambushed. Local tribes-people speared him to death. He was carrying blood samples from malaria victims, which were to be used in further analysis of the disease. The Tribes-people believed he was taking the blood to use in witchcraft rituals.
Gibbins identified and described twenty-six new fly species and several mosquitos now carry his name.