All around the world, wildlife rangers play a critical role in addressing the twin crises of species extinction and climate change, and are among the planet’s staunchest guardians of wildlife and ecosystems. The Africa-wide collapse of wildlife tourism caused by the COVID-19 crisis has eliminated essential funding for wildlife protection. This threatens to undo years of rangers’ conservation gains, compromising decades of development and conservation work across Africa.
This giving season, 22 renowned photographers have joined rangers from 100 protected areas across 20 African countries to raise funds to support 10,000 ranger colleagues, who are enduring drastic cuts in salaries and resources this year. Despite the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, these rangers are still working tirelessly alongside local communities to safeguard the continent’s iconic wildlife.
“Wildlife photographers would not be able to capture these kinds of poignant images or connect global audiences with our wild world without the help of rangers, who continue to sacrifice their own well-being through this pandemic,” said Robin Moore, Global Wildlife Conservation’s director of communications, a National Geographic represented photographer, and a contributing photographer to the sale. “This photography sale gives us a chance to celebrate rangers, who are unsung heroes, while also ensuring that they can continue to do their important work, which is critical to a healthy planet for you, for me, and for all life on Earth.”
Leading photographers including Paul Nicklen, Steve Winter, Ami Vitale and David Yarrow are partnering with the Wildlife Ranger Challenge and Global Wildlife Conservation in ‘Art for Wildlife Rangers,’ an online sale of their exquisite images of wildlife and wildlands on Artsy.net. Never before has a photography sale supported such a wide network of protected areas across Africa and beyond. The sale will help better protect more than 4 million km2 of critical ecosystems, benefit 10,000 rangers, support over 64,000 livelihoods of communities living around the parks, and safeguard countless wildlife species.
The photo sale, which runs from December 9th to January 31st, will release 60 fine art-quality images ranging from £185 ($250) to £34,700 ($46,550) that showcase the beauty of wildlife across Africa. The photo sale also gives individuals a chance to play a part in supporting conservation across the continent.
One hundred percent of the proceeds will be contributed to the Ranger Fund and administered by Tusk to support rangers’ work on the ground alongside local communities in Africa, benefiting a number of protected sites. This includes sites that Global Wildlife Conservation supports, such as Sambel Kunda in The Gambia, Tzavo in Kenya, and Chewore in Zimbabwe.
The Scheinberg Relief Fund has generously agreed to provide matched funding for this photo sale, doubling the value of each photo purchase up to $500,000 USD. The Scheinberg Relief Fund has already committed $5 million matched funding for the Wildlife Ranger Challenge as its founding donor. The Scheinberg Relief Fund was established in March 2020 by businessman and philanthropist, Mark Scheinberg, together with his family, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The photographs include beautiful portraits of rangers by photojournalist Brent Stirton; a striking image of a ranger with a rhino under his care at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in Kenya by Ami Vitale; elephant bulls taking a drink of water from the Zibadianja Lake in Botswana by Beverly Joubert; a ring seal peering out for polar bears below the surface by Paul Nicklen; the foggy forest canopy of Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia, Canada by Cristina Mittermeier; a lion at the Plzen Zoo in the branded style of National Geographic’s Photo Ark by Joel Sartore; and a limited edition, previously unreleased photo of an elephant in Amboseli National Park, Kenya, by renowned fine art photographer David Yarrow.
The other world-leading photographers participating include: Art Wolfe, Christopher Johns, Daisy Gilardini, Dale Rio, Greg du Toit, James Lewin, Jen Guyton, Martin Buzora, Peter Chadwick, Sandesh Kadur, Robin Moore, Shannon Wild, Steve Winter, Trevor Frost, and Will Burrard-Lucas.
“We are extremely grateful to this group of world-leading wildlife photographers that have donated their prints to keeping rangers employed and nature secure,” said Jonathan Baillie, president of NATURAL STATE. “We also want to thank the Scheinberg Relief Fund for matching all photo sales up to half-a-million dollars, so that every purchase has twice as much impact in the field.”
In October, the Wildlife Ranger Challenge organised a run that engaged more than 2,000 rangers from 20 countries in Africa who ran a race to raise funds for rangers in the greatest need. Two thousand supporters from 80 countries throughout the world joined them. The photo sale will build on this support.
“What we all need right now is hope and inspiration,” said Charlie Mayhew, CEO of Tusk. “Hope that we can still make a difference and inspiration for why we should. These incredible images of nature and the people who protect it make us pause to reflect on the importance of defending wildlife for everyone. By purchasing a beautiful piece of art, you are directly contributing to rangers’ conservation action on the ground right across Africa.”
Art for Wildlife Rangers photos for sale can be found on Artsy.net, a platform for the world’s leading galleries, museum collections, foundations, artist estates, art fairs, and benefit auctions, all in one place. Individuals who would prefer to make a direct donation to the Wildlife Ranger Challenge can do so at https://wildliferangerchallenge.org/artdonate/.
Top image: Martin Buzora’s “The Surrogate Mother,” shows Elias Mugambi, a ranger at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy caring for orphaned black rhino Kitui