“Are you a stalker?” Asked the little boy excitedly, “a real stalker”? If there was any evidence that Martina Fuhrmann’s work had a huge cooling factor, it was probably a chance encounter on the way to the Käflingsberg Tower, one of the most beautiful viewpoints in the Müritz National Park. With a kid who may not know the once successful (Western) TV series where rangers defend the wildlife in an American national park, save people from dangerous situations and stop the bad guys.
+++ Read more: The current report on the World Watchtower Day in the Müritz +++ National Park
The profession has long been established in Germany and also in many other countries: Martina Fuhrmann has around 300,000 associates worldwide. You can all celebrate World Ranger Day, which started 15 years ago, on Sunday. July 31 is dedicated to the foresters’ commitment to nature and the environment, but also to the memory of all those who were injured or killed in this mission – for example, in the fight against poaching. In northeastern Germany, the rangers certainly live less dangerously than in other regions; but their profession is by no means a walk.
For Martina Fuhrmann, however, being outside and being on the move are the most beautiful aspects of her job. The 52-year-old describes herself as “the child of the forest and meadow”. Born in an ambulance in the middle of the forest and as a fisherman’s daughter, she practically grew up on the water, from an early age she was fascinated by nature and everything that crawls and escapes there; she first became a forester and moved to the Müritz National Park in 1996 when her forestry office closed.
Different landscapes in the two federal states
Today it is one of 14 national parks in Germany; of the three in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, it is the most forested compared to the Vorpommersche Boddenlandschaft and Jasmund national parks. In Brandenburg, on the other hand, the Lower Oder Valley National Park boasts a unique riparian landscape. Forestry activities are as varied as landscapes. Their professional title makes them guardians of the protected area – and intermediaries between nature and its visitors.
Martina Fuhrmann always has a backpack full of finds with her: the shed skin of the grass snake; snail shell chopped by thrush; Pellets that the owl threw out of indigestible food remnants; or certain wolf droppings, including undigested animal hair and bones. A certified nature and landscape conservator knows that especially children cannot enjoy such a colorful history of nature.
She herself is always enthusiastic about the unique moments that can be experienced in flora and fauna. Especially in the early morning, when there is still silence, and the growing noise turns out to be a harbinger of a herd of deer, which will soon be sneaking through the shallow water. Circulation of a white-tailed eagle, a swimming wild boar family, a fox and a rabbit along the way, or the honking of cranes when it gets light: “It’s fantastic, no matter the weather,” says the ranger.
In order to preserve this habitat, their tasks are as extensive as they are diverse: they include guided tours on various topics, operating a national park information point, participating in monitoring projects such as bird populations or water levels, checking and replacing signs, footbridges, Barriers, usually regular checks of the area on foot or by bike.
Because definitely not all people who are in the national park know how to properly behave. Especially along water-based hiking trails, people are camping or starting fires illegally, regardless of all levels of forest fire warning. Perhaps the most common breach of the rules is parking outside designated areas.
Some visitors miss the insight
Dogs that are not on a leash – especially during the breeding and settlement periods – or litter can also cause frustration. Many people seem to be unaware that cellulose wipes (it’s easy to imagine what they’re supposed to cover) or mouth-to-nose masks are difficult to “degrade”. “It is a pity that insight is often lacking,” the ranger relates, also about unlearned people who complain about what “they are not allowed to do in this state.”
Most of them are undoubtedly those guests who want to experience nature, although some are away from home in a somewhat inappropriate way: “If the jukebox you brought with you is heard from a distance, you won’t see much of the wildlife,” Martina Fuhrmann concludes succinctly. From frequent experiences, she also advises to have solid maps with you.
Meeting the tracker (a specialist’s greeting does not matter) pays off not only in embarrassed moments. If the job title already sounds like an adventure and a fight for good, there is much more to learn – for example at the World Ranger Day events on Sunday from 12:00 to 18:00 at the Müritz National Park Information Office in Federow near Waren (Müritz) or from 10:00 to 13:00 at the Criewen National Park House in the Lower Oder Valley National Park in the Uckermark.