Tanzania and Zambia take Wildlife Ranger Challenge 2023 Titles

More than 1,500 rangers from across 22 African countries came together for the fourth annual worldwide celebration of biodiversity protectors.

More than 100 teams of rangers across Africa have taken part in the fourth annual Wildlife Ranger Challenge. Coordinated by Tusk and the Game Rangers Association of Africa, the multi-million fundraising initiative featured a series of fitness challenges and culminated with a 21km half-marathon race on 16th September 2023.

The men’s race was won by Tanzania’s African People & Wildlife – Tarangire National Park – Tarangire Ecosystem Team (A), in an impressive 2:01:25. Rangers Ezekiel Loserian, Ramadhani Mustafa, Mwasudi Nasiru and Milya Hodati are the new title holders.

Zambia’s Conservation South Luangwa – South Luangwa National Park – CSL Atsikana team have taken the women’s title, with rangers Maureen Mulenga, Beauty Ntala, Loveness Kumwenda and Aliness Chilepa recording a time of 2:45:27.  

Full results can be viewed here.

Launched in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 with the goal of keeping wildlife rangers employed through the crisis, the Wildlife Ranger Challenge has grown into an annual celebration of solidarity, connection and camaraderie for the ranger profession. The campaign joins thousands of rangers from 24 African nations with supporters from over 90 countries across the world – uniting the global north and the global south for a common goal: to raise money to boost thousands of rangers and ensure a future for Africa’s biodiversity.

Bear Grylls, Adventurer and Tusk Ambassador, says: ‘As the threats facing wildlife and the natural world continue to grow, wildlife rangers face mounting pressures and dangerous working conditions. I strongly encourage anyone who can, to support the amazing and important work of rangers. Join us to raise vital funds for the frontline conservation efforts, which too often go unappreciated.”

Wildlife rangers play a critical role in the conservation of protected and conserved areas. As biodiversity guardians they are responsible for safeguarding nature, and cultural and historical heritage, as well as protecting the rights and wellbeing of present and future generations. However, as it stands, the proposed increases in coverage of protected and conserved areas to 30% of the planet would require an increase of around 2000% in the number of rangers employed in Africa[1] – if the IUCN’s guideline of ranger coverage by area were to be followed.

A more effective way of increasing the efficiency of the management of protected and conserved areas is to boost the support provided to ranger teams and to catalyse the development of the ranger profession as a whole. This can only happen with increased recognition of the fundamental contribution rangers make to conservation.

Rangers often operate under poor and dangerous working environments with inadequate employment conditions. Threats, violence, injury, disease and death are not uncommon, as reflected in the annual Roll of Honour data, released by the International Ranger Federation.

A global survey conducted by WWF in 2019 further signifies how rangers are commonly under-resourced, under-appreciated and unrecognised, with almost 70% of rangers surveyed contracting malaria within a 12-month period[2]. The average ranger works almost 90 hours a week under extremely tough conditions: whilst on patrol, over 40% of rangers have no access to shelter at night, and over 60% of rangers have no access to drinking clean water. On top of this, over 40% of rangers have received threats from community members and 14% have even experienced physical violence. With the Wildlife Ranger Challenge, Tusk aims to highlight the immense challenges the rangers continue to face, and the incredible diversity of their work, whilst raising funds to help them continue safeguarding Africa’s wildlife.

Joseph Piroris, 3rd In-Charge of Armed Security and Head of the Canine unit at Lewa Wildlife Conservancy comments: “For many years, wildlife rangers have been on the frontlines of conservation, risking their lives to protect our planet’s endangered species and ecosystems. They work tirelessly to preserve nature and safeguard against poaching, illegal logging, and other human activities that harm the environment. Without their dedication and commitment, the world’s wildlife populations and fragile ecosystems could be lost forever. By supporting wildlife rangers, we can help protect these endangered species and preserve the natural world for future generations. It is our responsibility to show our gratitude and respect for the critical work that they do by providing them with the necessary resources, tools, and funding to continue their work.”


Rangers can spend hours a day in challenging terrain, and for their safety and wellbeing rangers train to keep in peak physical shape. In the lead up to race day, ranger teams prepared by taking part in a targeted training programme designed to improve their physical fitness. They tested their abilities with a series of training mini challenges, including push-up and sit-up challenges, and a specialist quiz testing their wildlife knowledge. The Wildlife Ranger Challenge also featured a canine challenge for protected areas with dog units, in which dogs and handlers competed to demonstrate their tracking skills, using scent to identify an object across a pre-defined competition space. On 16th September 2023, more than 100 ranger teams competed in a coordinated 21km race across their respective landscapes carrying 22kg of kit. They were joined by more than 2,000 supporters across the globe, running in solidarity #ForWildlifeRangers.


With over $16 million raised to date, the Wildlife Ranger Challenge seeks to increase the support for the ranger workforce by widening access to essential equipment, enhanced training and protective measures. Founding donor, the Scheinberg Relief Fund, has generously committed $1 million in matched funds in support of rangers most in need in 2023. A global, collaborative public fundraising campaign for the Wildlife Ranger Challenge has the additional goal of raising $3 million to support thousands of rangers in the field.

The Wildlife Ranger Challenge 2023 spotlights 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 amongst rangers and their colleagues across borders – driving global recognition and support, along with improvements for the welfare of rangers in the field across Africa.

There’s still time to donate to the campaign via this link.

[1] https://www.cbd.int/article/draft-1-global-biodiversity-framework

[2] Belecky, M., Singh, R. and Moreto, W. (2019). Life on the Frontline 2019: A Global Survey of the Working Conditions of Rangers. WWF.

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