Each fallen ranger we hear of strikes a chord, for sacrifice and another gap in the thin green line of the world’s rangers.

We were shocked to hear of the sudden death of Samuel Loware, senior ranger at Kidepo National Park in Uganda. The tragic news reverberated through Africa’s conservation community and beyond. TGL Founder Sean Willmore knew Samuel very well. The sudden sad news from across the globe has been hard to accept.

“African conservation has lost a champion, and Thin Green Line has lost a treasured friend,” Sean said. “Samuel was a remarkable and selfless conservation leader.”

“Together we coordinated practical support for a number of field projects through Thin Green Line, as well as improved ranger accommodation in Kidepo National Park.”

“I had the very great pleasure of spending time with him when he hosted Australian First Nations rangers in Uganda in 2017, and more recently in late 2019 at the World Ranger Congress, just before the pandemic,” said Sean.

“I’ve lost a close friend – a man who inspired many of us in the global conservation community. He knew how to laugh too, an important attribute when dealing with the many serious challenges that Samuel and his team faced.”

In 2020 Samuel was awarded Best Field Ranger at the Rhino Conservation Awards, a prestigious award for African rangers.

Samuel repeatedly showed his bravery but he never glamourised the vital work of rangers. Having confronted poachers many times, Samuel understood better than anyone the dangers on the frontlines of conservation. On another occasion, he had been attacked by a wounded buffalo.

He considered resigning after being shot in the shoulder by a poacher but decided that he needed to continue the conservation work he had started.

Samuel led successful projects to monitor large mammals reintroduced to Kidepo National Park, including giraffes and Ugandan kobs. With much hard work by Samuel’s ranger teams, these herds have grown. Samuel was hopeful that rhinos would also be reintroduced to the national park. In 2020, he was recognised for the increasing number of lions in the protected area, always a strong indicator of a healthy ecosystem.

On Tuesday 9 May, Samuel collapsed suddenly at a training workshop and couldn’t be revived.

He was due to be promoted to the most senior level a field ranger can attain and confirmed as ongoing head ranger at Kidepo. Samuel had worked with Uganda Wildlife Authority for 22 years.

“Samuel was always focused on the needs of his ranger team and on ways to improve wildlife protection and monitoring; he never asked for anything for himself,” Sean said.

“It’s a very sad moment for us to lose such a great conservationist,” said ranger Silvano Ling.

Sara Ferguson at Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF) spoke about their work with Samuel and his team, reintroducing a rare giraffe species to Kidepo.

“We at GCF were lucky to have worked closely with Samuel to monitor the ‘Critically Endangered’ Nubian giraffe since 2014, as well as translocating more giraffe into the area to support the small population in 2018,” Sara said. “Sam was an absolute legend of a ranger and truly dedicated his life to the protection and conservation of the wildlife in Uganda.” 

Thin Green Line has arranged emergency financial assistance for Samuel’s family, including his seven children, and we will honour Samuel’s legacy with continued support for his conservation work in his beloved Kidepo National Park.

Thank you Samuel.

Samuel Loware

In his own words …

To me rangers are the ones who are çonnected, and are in touch with the wildlife, day and night.”

“Rangers need a lot of support in terms of equipment. Management tend to put these requests in the too-hard basket, due to lack of finances.”

“The animals we protect make a lot of revenue for us, revenue which in turn should be used to boost resources for rangers.”

“Africa needs to wake up by herself, instead of being woken up by people from afar.”

“Remember, poachers succeed simply because they have studied our weaknesses in field conservation.”

“This lion in Kidepo suffered for so long within community land, injured by a wire trap! We need rapid rescue operations in protected areas and conservation areas if we are to succeed in conservation.”

(Images: The Guardian/Samuel Loware)