Georgia mourns death of legendary ranger, Kukuri Saralidze

Georgia: The Agency of Protected Areas and Borjom-Kharagauli National Park have announced the passing of Kukuri Saralidze, a ranger who dedicated 35 years of his life to the conservation of Georgia’s nature.

Saralidze, who died at the age of 58, began his career in the Borjomi State Reserve in 1983 and continued to work there even after the establishment of the National Park in 1995. He was known for his devotion, courage, and professionalism in protecting the wildlife and ecosystems of the park, which covers more than 85,000 hectares of land and hosts a variety of flora and fauna.

Saralidze faced many challenges and dangers during his service, especially in the turbulent 1990s, when state institutions collapsed and poaching was rampant. He worked without any equipment or support, relying on his own skills and experience. He also discovered and reported many cases of illegal hunting and logging in the park, and received several awards for his contribution to the protection and development of protected areas.

Saralidze loved his job and was proud of his role in preserving Georgia’s natural heritage. In an interview, he said: “If I didn’t love this job and our unique nature I wouldn’t have stayed here so long, as they say if you do what you love, work will never be boring. So are we, rangers protect nature, serve people. Tired of hearing the deer scream, looking at these beautiful views, seeing the smiling and grateful faces of the visitors, relieves the burden of the whole day. Do you feel that you have contributed a small part in all of this, that it is all yours and you should keep it for your children.”

To honor his memory, the Agency of Protected Areas named a tourist shelter in Kvabiskhevi – “Kukura’s hut” after him. Kukura was his nickname among his colleagues and friends. The agency and the park also expressed their gratitude to Saralidze for his selfless service and dedication to the cause of nature conservation.

Saralidze’s death has saddened many people in Georgia and abroad, who have shared their condolences and tributes on social media. He is survived by his wife and two children, who also work as rangers in the park.

Zurab Kvaratskhelia

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