Ahead of World Ranger Day on Saturday 31 July 2021, Wildlife ACT is joining more than 150 ranger teams across Africa and gearing up for the Wildlife Ranger Challenge 2021 – a multi-million-dollar fundraising initiative culminating on 18 September and supporting thousands of the men and women on the frontlines of Africa’s protected areas.
Africa’s rangers are stretched to capacity and continue to see drastic cuts in resources and an increase in poaching due to the devastating economic impact of COVID-19. The Wildlife Ranger Challenge, a 21km race across the varied and challenging terrain of Africa’s Protected Areas, will support rangers to safeguard the continent’s iconic wildlife for years to come.
Find out more, donate to the cause and sign up to run in solidarity with our rangers on 18 September 2021 at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/zululand-monitoring-team-2021
About the World Ranger Challenge 2021
A new survey, conducted by Tusk and NATURAL STATE, with 60 field conservation organisations across 19 African countries, found that Wildlife Rangers see no relief in sight, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Africa’s communities and wildlife. The pressures on Africa’s protected areas threaten to compromise decades of development and conservation success through:
(1) A continental-wide collapse of wildlife tourism. The COVID-19 crisis has eliminated essential funding for wildlife protection that comes from tourism.
Wildlife ACT, Zululand, South Africa:
“The impact of COVID-19 on our tourism business model as well as several of our partners has been devastating to our conservation work. With little or no tourism over the last year and half, the resultant cuts not only to our salary budgets but to our operational budgets too, has left the animals we help protect at risk.”
(2) A rise in poaching. The economic stresses of COVID-19 on communities, and reduced ranger presence, has resulted in an increase in poaching, but the threat is expected to increase further with ranger capacity remaining low and as international borders open.
Conservation & Wildlife Fund, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe:
“Once lockdown restrictions started easing, poachers leapt back into action – the number of traps and snares recovered increased by 8,000% between May and July 2020.”
Launching today, ahead of World Ranger Day on 31 July, the Wildlife Ranger Challenge will bring together more than 150 ranger teams, across 20 African countries to participate in a series of mental and physical challenges, culminating in the Wildlife Ranger Challenge 21km half marathon on 18 September. The challenge brings rangers’ vital work to the forefront and provides a platform for their organisations to generate crucial funding.
A global campaign #ForWildlifeRangers will use the power of ranger voices, influencers and celebrities to issue a call to arms to the public to support Africa’s rangers by donating to the Ranger Fund or by taking part in the Wildlife Ranger Challenge in solidarity, wherever they are in the world. Today, Bear Grylls kicks off the public challenge with a film describing the need for urgent action.
Throughout August, celebrities will encourage the public to ‘Train Like A Ranger’ with three weeks of mental and physical challenges. The Greatest Marathon Runner of All Time had these words of support for all those taking part in the challenge:
Eliud Kipchoge, World Marathon Record Holder:
“As I head to the Tokyo Olympics, I wish all the wildlife rangers across Africa the best of luck as they come together for the Wildlife Ranger Challenge 2021. Together with the organisers Tusk and Natural State, we believe wildlife rangers are critical to a strong and sustainable future for wildlife and communities. I look forward to being back in a few weeks to support and participate in the challenge together with my Lewa brothers. Good Luck and remember, No Human is Limited.”
THE RANGER FUND
Funds raised will cover the operating costs for at least 5,000 rangers, enabling them to provide for their families, protect communities and wildlife in some of the continent’s most vulnerable areas. Tusk, NATURAL STATE, Game Rangers Association of Africa, The Thin Green Line, For Rangers, and the International Ranger Federation have partnered with 60 conservation areas to launch the pan-African challenge.
The Scheinberg Relief Fund, the Challenge’s founding donor, has generously committed another $1.35m of matching funds in support of rangers, on top of the $5m provided in 2020, with the goal of raising a total of $5m in 2021. In addition, for a second consecutive year, EJF Philanthropies contributed at Elephant Platinum Sponsorship level of $100,000.00.
WILDLIFE RANGER CHALLENGE 2020
In 2020, the Wildlife Ranger Challenge was mobilised to tackle the crisis. $10m was raised to support over 9,000 rangers who collectively work to protect more than 4,000,000 km2 of conservation areas across Africa providing salaries, equipment and operating costs.
Wildlife ACT, Zululand, South Africa:
“The funds and support received from WRC 2020 came at a much needed time which assisted us with the means to continue some of our vital conservation work, support our teams on the ground and begin rebuilding our projects from the devastating impacts of the pandemic.”
More info at www.wildliferangerchallenge.org