Elephants are not the only thing being slaughtered in Equatorial Africa.
The rangers aren't being killed by poor subsistence hunters. Those responsible are heavily-armed gangs of illegal poachers in search of forest elephants, which are gunned down or snared for their valuable ivory tusks.
Ivory today is fetching record prices in Asia, especially in China and various southern-Asian nations -- the dominant consumers of illegal ivory -- where it is used for carvings and other ornamental purposes.
Record ivory prices are not the only reason for the demise of elephants. Vast networks of new roads -- totaling over 50,000 kilometers in length from the mid-1990s to mid-2000s -- have been bulldozed into the Congo rainforest by commercial loggers.
This has opened up the rainforest to a tsunami of hunters, leaving few safe places for the elephants to hide.
For the increasingly beleaguered forests of the Democratic Republic of Congo, cadres of poorly-paid park guards are often the only thing standing between the last forest elephants and oblivion.
We should tip our hats to these brave warriors who are drawing a line -- and often laying down their lives -- to save imperiled wildlife.
And while we're remembering their courage, we should also continue to pressure the dominant ivory-consuming nations, including China, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Laos, to finally clamp down on their illegal ivory trade -- which is exacting far too high a price on the world.