African People & Wildlife Unites with Wildlife Protectors across Africa to Defend Decades of Conservation Progress
The Community Game Scout Team in Tanzania’s Tarangire Ecosystem Joins The Wildlife Ranger Challenge to Bring Thousands of Their Counterparts Back to the Field
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August 24, 2020
Arusha, Tanzania – An African People & Wildlife-supported community game scout team is gearing up to take part in the Wildlife Ranger Challenge on October 3rd to build comradery and raise funds and awareness of the hardship currently faced by those in their profession.
Launched by NGOs Tusk and NATURAL STATE in partnership with fifty ranger teams across Africa, The Wildlife Ranger Challenge is a multi-million-dollar fundraising initiative to support the men and women across Africa’s protected areas who are working tirelessly to safeguard iconic wildlife while enduring drastic cuts in salaries and resources due to the devastating economic impact of COVID-19. View the campaign film.
In Tanzania’s Tarangire ecosystem, the community game scout team patrols 914,289 acres of critical habitat and protects seven vulnerable or endangered wildlife species, including lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, African wild dog, Maasai giraffe, and the southern fringe-eared oryx. The team’s work is instrumental in the fight against deforestation, charcoal production, and poaching.
Charles Trout, African People & Wildlife's co-founder and chief program officer, said: “The community game scout team works hand-in-hand with government authorities by providing valuable intelligence. The scouts have contributed to major arrests and helped to break up wildlife supply chains and organized crime rings. It is essential to conservation efforts in this landscape that we keep their boots on the ground.”
On October 3rd, 2020, up to fifty ranger teams spanning the African continent will unite to compete in a half marathon race carrying their typical 25 kg backpack and equipment, building comradery, and raising awareness of the hardship currently faced by those in their profession.
Supporters around the world will also be encouraged to bolster efforts and to ‘Run with Rangers’ by taking part in a virtual 5, 10, or 21 km run and donating or raising sponsorship. See wildliferangerchallenge.org.
The continental-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.
Due to the devastating economic impact of the pandemic, 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 reopening, it is feared that protected areas across Africa will experience a rapid increase in illegal poaching as well as a decline in well-being and economic security for the communities to whom this wildlife belongs.
- The African Union has suggested that the cost of COVID-19 on the African travel sector may be $50 billion1, with calamitous impacts on livelihoods.
- The Game Ranger Association of Africa estimates that there are between 40,000 and 50,000 rangers in Africa and that the vast majority have had their salary reduced by 50 to 80 percent.
- A recent IUCN commissioned report2 stated that, “urgent support should be provided to (protected area) agencies and other actors to help reduce poaching, eliminate illegal wildlife trade … and support the livelihoods of local communities.”
The Wildlife Ranger Challenge has mobilized to tackle this crisis. Funds raised will cover salaries for at least 5,000 rangers, enabling them to provide for their families, protect communities, and defend endangered wildlife – including elephant, pangolin, rhino, and lion – in some of the continent’s most vulnerable areas.
The Ranger Fund
To mark World Ranger Day, NGOs Tusk, NATURAL STATE, and Global Wildlife Conservation have partnered with over fifty ranger units, the Game Rangers Association of Africa, The Thin Green Line, For Rangers, and the International Ranger Federation to launch the pan-African challenge. The Scheinberg Relief Fund, the Challenge’s founding donor, has generously committed $5 million of matching funds in support of rangers, with the goal of raising a total of $10 million and getting thousands of rangers back to full capacity. 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.
Tusk’s Royal Patron, HRH The Duke of Cambridge, said: “The wildlife rangers of Africa’s protected areas are the unsung heroes of conservation, achieving so much, against the odds. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic means that many rangers are working even harder, with increasingly depleted funds. It is more important than ever that rangers across Africa have the support they need to carry on their vital work. I am therefore delighted that this new Ranger Fund will help the protected areas that need it the most and keep rangers deployed in the field.”
About African People & Wildlife
African People & Wildlife works to ensure a future where humans and wild animals coexist and thrive. Operating on the ground in Tanzania, APW partners with communities to create effective, sustainable solutions that improve the lives of rural Africans while protecting the natural world.
Tusk’s mission is to amplify the impact of progressive conservation initiatives across Africa. The charity has earned a reputation for providing a highly efficient solution for funding wildlife conservation programs. Tusk partners with the most effective local organizations, investing in their in-depth knowledge and expertise. By supporting and nurturing their conservation programs, it helps accelerate growth from an innovative idea to a scalable solution.
For more than thirty years, Tusk has helped pioneer an impressive range of successful conservation initiatives across more than twenty countries, increasing vital protection for over 70 million hectares of land and more than forty different threatened species. But the threat to Africa’s unique natural heritage remains real and more urgent than ever.
About NATURAL STATE
The mission of NATURAL STATE is landscape restoration at scale. Through large-scale restoration projects, our objective is to sequester and store carbon, secure biodiversity and make measurable advances towards the sustainable development goals. In addition to implementing large scale restoration projects, NATURAL STATE develops innovative technology and financial mechanisms to unlock private sector capital, thereby accelerating restoration efforts globally.
About The Scheinberg Relief Fund
The Scheinberg Relief Fund was established by businessman and philanthropist, Mark Scheinberg, together with his family, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Its mission is to provide strategic, high impact relief for individuals and communities. As well as reducing the short-term impact of the virus, the Fund also seeks to build a legacy in the communities and initiatives that it gives to, by providing funding for projects that secure a longer-term impact. More information available at scheinbergfund.org.
- African Union Study
- The Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on Africa’s Protected Areas’ operations and programs