Africa’s rangers are stretched to capacity and continue to see drastic cuts in resources and an increase in poaching due to the devastating economic impact of COVID-19.
The Wildlife Ranger Challenge is a multi-million-dollar fundraising initiative in support of the thousands of men and women on the frontline of Africa’s Protected Areas in safeguarding the continent’s iconic wildlife for years to come.
A survey, conducted by Tusk and NATURAL STATE with 60 field conservation organizations across 19 African countries, found that Wildlife Rangers see no relief in sight, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Africa’s communities and wildlife.
The pressures on Africa’s protected areas threaten to compromise decades of development and conservation success through:
A continental-wide collapse of wildlife tourism causing a rise in poaching.
The COVID-19 crisis has eliminated essential funding for wildlife protection that comes from tourism .
In 2018, the global wildlife tourism economy generated over $100bn and provided nine million jobs, worldwide.
But COVID-19 has resulted in an almost complete end to cross-border travel, severely affecting countries dependent on tourism revenue as a significant part of their GDP.
The tourism impact alone could lead to a USD 53-120bn (https://bit.ly/3EnqEev) hit to the continent’s GDP.
The impact of the pandemic on revenue generation was so serious that nearly half of protected areas across Africa reported that they could only maintain basic operations for up to three months if the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 continued to be enforced.
The economic stresses of COVID-19 on communities, and reduced ranger presence, has resulted in an increase in poaching, but the threat is expected to increase further with ranger capacity remaining low and as international borders open.
Such hardships place major additional pressures on protected areas as communities increase natural resource use to survive.
The Ranger Fund.
The 21km race is taking place this Saturday 18th September and will see more than 150 ranger teams across Africa participating in the 2021 Wildlife Ranger Challenge across the varied and challenging terrain of Africa’s Protected Areas.
In 2020, the first edition of the Wildlife Ranger Challenge raised $10m to support over 9,000 rangers who collectively work to protect more than 4,000,000 km2 of conservation areas across Africa providing salaries, equipment and operating costs.
This year, the Wildlife Ranger Challenge 2021 initiative seeks to raise a total of $5m.
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The Challenge’s founding donor, The Scheinberg Relief Fund, has generously committed another $1.35m of matching funds in support of rangers, on top of the $5m provided in 2020.
In addition, for a second consecutive year, EJF Philanthropies has contributed $100,000 at Elephant Platinum Sponsorship leve.