The Wildlife Ranger Challenge is the world’s largest celebration of solidarity, support and fundraising for the ranger profession. More than 100 teams of rangers spanning the African continent will compete in a coordinated 21km race across their respective protected areas on 16th September 2023.
A global campaign #ForWildlifeRangers will create a united front for conservation, driving donations to secure vital funding and connecting virtual race participants around the world to run in tandem with Africa’s biodiversity guardians. You can find out more, donate to the cause or sign up to run in solidarity with Africa’s conservation heroes at WildlifeRangerChallenge.org.
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.
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 – 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. 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.
 Belecky, M., Singh, R. and Moreto, W. (2019). Life on the Frontline 2019: A Global Survey of the Working Conditions of Rangers. WWF.