Rangers Gear Up For The 2022 Wildlife Ranger Challenge

Ahead of World Ranger Day on Sunday 31st July, over 100 ranger teams from 15 African countries are gearing up for the 2022 Wildlife Ranger Challenge, a multi-million dollar fundraising initiative, culminating in a 21km half marathon on Saturday 17th September.

Race day will coincide with the African Ranger Congress taking place in Kasane, Botswana, at which Tusk and its partners, the Game Rangers’ Association of Africa, and NATURAL STATE, intend to bring together delegates to take part in the Challenge, with a view to setting a Fastest Known Time for the fastest half marathon carrying 22kg.

The race will be accompanied by a series of mental and physical challenges, with the public in Africa and around the world encouraged to participate alongside the rangers. New this year will be a mini-challenge for ranger teams with canine units, in which dogs and handlers will demonstrate their tracking skills. Find out more, donate to the cause and sign up to run in solidarity with Africa’s rangers at wildliferangerchallenge.org

The launch of this year’s Challenge included a spectacular light display in London, with iconic landmarks such as the South African High Commission in the heart of Trafalgar Square being lit up to showcase a map of Africa and the participating countries.

Following the success of previous years’ campaigns, which to date have raised a total of more than $12 million, the Wildlife Ranger Challenge 2022 will have a bigger impact than ever before, with this year’s Challenge seeking to correct misconceptions of the role of rangers and support the development of the entire “rangering” profession. To support this goal, Mark Scheinberg and the Scheinberg Relief Fund, the Challenge’s founding donor, has generously committed $1 million in match-funding in support of rangers, on top of the total $6.5 million to the campaign to date.

A survey conducted by Tusk at the recent Tusk Conservation Symposium found that the top five threats to conservation over the next ten years include habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict and climate change. The skills needed to meet these challenges are indicative of the changing role of wildlife rangers. Yet, despite the multifaceted nature of the job, rangers are often misunderstood as just a man with a gun chasing poachers.

The Wildlife Ranger Challenge 2022 will spotlight the ever-diversifying role of rangers to demonstrate their wider roles as conservationists, teachers, community support workers and leaders, contributing not just to their immediate communities but to global UN Sustainable Development Goals.

As the Challenge develops, it aims to become a movement to drive the recognition of rangering as a profession, build camaraderie amongst rangers and their colleagues across borders, and drive improvements for the welfare of rangers in the field across Africa.

Benson Kanyembo, Law Enforcement Adviser for Conservation South Luangwa (Zambia) says: “The threats facing wildlife and the natural world are only growing. As well as poaching, these days we also have to improve human-wildlife coexistence while at the same time addressing the impacts of climate change and population growth on land use. As rangers, we’re doing more than ever to protect Africa’s wildlife, despite the funding challenges created by Covid-19. To ensure we can continue securing a future for Africa’s wildlife, we need greater support as we not only rebuild post pandemic, but develop and expand our impact.”

Sergeant Belinda Acacia Mzimba, Sergeant, Driver, Media Liaison, PT Instructor, The Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit (South Africa), says: “In the past, women would be overlooked for this job because we did not fit the traditional conception of a wildlife ranger. However, over time, we have proven women play a vital role in protecting Africa’s rich natural heritage. From deterring poachers out in the field, to teaching the value of conservation among local communities, we tackle habitat and biodiversity loss from every angle, leaving no stone unturned.”

Bear Grylls, Adventurer and Tusk Ambassador, says: “Today, wildlife rangers face mounting pressures. Resources are incredibly stretched, with many working on the front line of Africa’s protected areas lacking the essential tools to carry out their work safely. With poaching rates on the rise, the demands on rangers will only become greater. Taking part in the Wildlife Ranger Challenge is a fantastic way to show you’re for wildlife rangers and ensures these conservation heroes receive the recognition and vital funds they so critically need.”

Charlie Mayhew MBE, Chief Executive of Tusk says: “Initiatives like the Wildlife Ranger Challenge play a big role in highlighting conservation and the role of rangers in West Africa and across the wider continent. The campaign has to date supported over 2,000 rangers across 24 African countries. Looking ahead, we have even greater ambitions for the Wildlife Ranger Challenge. We hope the Challenge will become not only the largest pan-African sporting event, but a springboard from which the entire “rangering” profession can be recognised and developed.”

Mark Scheinberg, Scheinberg Relief Fund says: “We’re extremely proud to be supporting the Wildlife Ranger Challenge in its third year and highlighting the varied role of rangers in Africa. It was a personal pleasure and honour to meet dozens of rangers in Kenya last year – truly local heroes. Without their daily dedication, wildlife in the region and across Africa would not survive. I encourage anyone who wants to preserve African wildlife and support the men and women that protect them, to join this year’s Wildlife Ranger Challenge.”

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