Ministry for the Interior donates deployment suits and Lufthansa Cargo flies them to Addis Ababa
For years the Zoologische Gesellschaft Frankfurt (Zoological Society) has looked after conservation projects in Africa, including some in Ethiopia. An important part of the programme is the policing of the reservations by local rangers. In this connection, the researchers and conservationists from Frankfurt have now received the support of Hesse’s police and Lufthansa Cargo. The police donated 100 new deployment suits as service uniform of the rangers. The freight experts of Lufthansa Cargo fly the shipment on special terms to Addis Ababa.
The landscape is breathtaking: Alpine grassland with huge stretches of heather, alpine meadows at a height of over 3,000 metres, tiger lilies, giant lobelias and wild coffee bushes - the original form of all types of coffee. But the idyll is deceptive. The countryside around 300 kilometres north-east of Addis Ababa is threatened by increasing acquisition of land, grazing and the illegal felling of wood for burning by the peasants living there. Threatened, above all, is the red Ethiopian wolf which is found nowhere in the world apart from the Ethiopian highland. Its numbers have shrunk to around 500. The destruction of its habitat and illnesses of the sheepdogs have taken it to the brink of extinction. People have recognized, however, that they must live in harmony with nature if they themselves are to survive in the long run, says Zoological Society Managing Director Dr. Christof Schenck. In two new reserves, Abune Yoseph and Guassa Menz, since 2005 the protection of the afro-alpine eco systems has been promoted and through the active involvement of the rural population a new conservation model has been given a trial. The communities themselves have defined the reserves in which cattle may no longer graze and no more wood can be felled for burning. "In return for the self-sacrifice", says Schrenk, "our local project managers have developed alternatives together with the local population. As a substitute for the firewood, in the meantime, in a specially developed compost press, the natives produce pellets from agricultural waste which are burned to produce heat for cooking purposes. A small lodge for tourists has been built in Guassa. This brings in modest revenues. Hand in hand with that, villagers offer guided tours through the reservation. Volunteers have registered as wardens in order to monitor compliance with the self-imposed restrictions."
"In many national parks and nature reserves, their surveillance still depends on whether even the simplest equipment is available", says Dr. Christof Schenck, speaking from his own experience. Especially in the highlands of Ethiopia it can be uncomfortably cold and rainy. Good functional clothing, however, is still hard to obtain in many areas of Africa, he adds. "Therefore, the high-quality and well-maintained suits are indeed a welcome gift for us", said Schenck.
Not as spectacular as the one in 2004. At that time, Lufthansa Cargo sponsored the move of the 800- kilogram female black rhinoceros "Hama" from Frankfurt Zoo to South Africa. In the course of a re- settlement programme, "Hama" flew aboard a Lufthansa aircraft, in a crate specially produced for it, from Frankfurt to Johannesburg.
5,355 kilometres distant from Frankfurt, the 100 suits from the uniform store of Hesse’s police will make 100 rangers happy. Good functional clothing is one thing. The respect and authority which it brings with it, the other. "Of course, the rangers will be pleased as punch to wear their new uniform and will go to work with twice the motivation", the Zoological Society Managing Director feels sure. The gift from the police was made possible by a change of colours by Hesse’s custodians of the law from green to blue. In the wake of European harmonization, Hesse also decided years ago to switch its service uniforms and vehicles over to the new colour. "I am delighted that we can support the work of the Zoological Society with 100 police uniforms that are no longer required", said Hesse’s new Minister of the Interior Boris Rhein when handing over the future ranger uniforms against the attractive backdrop of Frankfurt Zoo. "Particularly at a time in which, on the one hand, the demands on nature conservation are growing, while on the other, the available funds are decreasing", said Rhein, "we would like to set an example with this donation".
To be on the safe side, the Ministry of the Interior had arranged for the official emblems on the uniform jackets with Hesse’s red and white lion and the inscription "Polizei" to be removed in advance. It could have led to some confusion for tourists apparently to come face to face with a German policeman in the Ethiopian highlands.