On Saturday 3rd October 2020, over 50 ranger teams across the African continent will come together to compete in a half marathon race. Unlike traditional races, each of the rangers will be carrying a 25kg backpack, containing a typical day’s equipment, raising awareness of the hardship currently faced by those in their profession, and building comradery.
Supporters around the world are also being encouraged to take on their own challenge and ‘Run with Rangers’, in the form of a virtual 5, 10 or 21km run or walk and donate funds or raise sponsorship. See wildliferangerchallenge.org.
The challenge has received global support from an array of internationally recognised faces including; the world’s greatest long distance runner, Eliud Kipchoge from Kenya, adventurers and TV personalities Bear Grylls and Levison Wood, plus His Royal Highness, The Duke of Cambridge.
Wildlife Ranger Challenge Ambassador and Marathon World Record Holder, Eliud Kipchoge, said: “It means a lot to me to run with rangers. To run with the people who watch over wildlife when we sleep at night is actually an honour.”
Covid-19 has brought tourism revenues across Africa to a halt, leaving a huge deficit in essential conservation funding for wildlife protection. This threatens to undo years of rangers’ conservation gains, compromising decades of development and conservation work in Africa.
Wildlife Rangers are now uniting with the Wildlife Ranger Challenge, a race with one goal: to raise money to support thousands of rangers and protect iconic African wildlife such as elephants, pangolins, rhinos, and lions.
As a result, 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.
Funds raised via the Wildlife Ranger Challenge will cover salaries for at least 5,000 rangers, enabling them to provide for their families, protect communities and defend endangered wildlife in some of the continent’s most vulnerable areas.
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.”
The Scheinberg Relief Fund, the Challenge’s founding donor, has generously committed $5million 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.