The Wildlife Ranger Challenge was led by Tusk and NATURAL STATE to support over 9,000 wildlife rangers across Africa’s protected areas.
The continental-wide collapse of wildlife tourism caused by the Covid-19 crisis has eliminated essential funding for wildlife protection. Rangers across Africa have had their salaries significantly cut, and many have been furloughed – leaving families destitute and wildlife vulnerable and unprotected. With many rangers stretched to capacity and international and national borders re-opening, it is feared that protected areas across Africa will experience a rapid increase in illegal poaching as well as a decline in wellbeing and economic security for the communities to whom this wildlife belongs.
Almost 100 ranger teams competed against each other in support of their counterparts and to bring the sector back to full force. Over recent weeks they have been taking part in a number of physical challenges that reflect the rigourous training they undergo to become a ranger. The Wildlife Ranger Challenge culminated yesterday in a half marathon race in which the rangers had to carry their typical 25kg backpack and equipment. The winning team were the Laikipia Lion Rangers from Loisaba Conservancy, who together completed the half marathon in 2 hours 21 minutes. Click here for all results.
In the meantime, as well as sponsoring the ranger teams directly, approximately 2,000 people took to streets and parks around the world to walk or run 5, 10 or 21km in solidarity with the rangers, all of whom were connected to the event through a stories, messages, images, and videos over the Wildlife Ranger Challenge race day website. All the funds raised or donated are being doubled by the Scheinberg Relief Fund, which has already provided an initial $2m that disbursed to ranger teams last month as part of the initiative.
In addition to the vital funds raised, the event has built a strong sense of comradeship between the rangers, and has raised awareness of the hardship currently faced by those in their profession.
Fundraising continues until the end of the month. Please visit the Wildlife Ranger Challenge website to show your support.
Top image: Mount Kenya Trust – Imenti Forest Reserve Team compete in the challenge, by Sarah Marshall