South African Wildlife rangers will be participating in a global 2021 Wildlife Ranger Challenge to raise funds lost through the Covid-19 pandemic. Picture: Tusk/Marcus Westberg
South African Wildlife rangers will be participating in a global 2021 Wildlife Ranger Challenge to raise funds lost through the Covid-19 pandemic. Picture: Tusk/Marcus Westberg

World Ranger Day: Wildlife rangers unite to face the threat of Covid-19

By Kristin Engel Time of article published Jul 30, 2021

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Cape Town - Covid-19 has seen a significant rise in poaching and animal loss, but this has motivated over 150 wildlife ranger teams across Africa, including Wildlife Act and Somkhanda Community Game Reserve, to gear up for the 2021 Wildlife Ranger Challenge starting on World Ranger Day tomorrow.

The 2021 Wildlife Ranger Challenge is a global fundraising initiative co-ordinated by Tusk and Natural State that consisted of various challenges leading up to the final event on September 18.

Ranger teams from protected areas across the continent will participate in a 21km race to raise funds for wildlife conservation efforts and support the rangers that make these efforts possible.

Wildlife ACT Fundraising and Partnerships manager Fiona Evans said that as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, their tourism operation which funded their conservation work was halted but they were able to continue operations on the ground due to the assistance provided from last year’s Wildlife Ranger Challenge.

SOUL of a Ranger: Rangers work for nature in the frontlines of conservation. Somkhanda Community Game Reserve is home to black and white rhinos. | Zama Dlamini, left, and Nombuso Zulu. | Peter Chadwick

Evans said they were excited to have two teams participating in this year’s event.

“By focusing on Wildlife Rangers and the importance of the work they do we are able to shine a light on the issues that these rangers face on a regular basis and also the areas that they work to protect,” said Evans.

Wildlands spokesperson Buyi Makhoba-Dlamini said the Somkhanda Community Game Reserve had also entered two teams that would be doing a range of physical and mental challenges for the five weeks leading up to the 21km race.

“Challenges such as this demonstrate that anyone can contribute and support wildlife conservation by taking a simple action like running, walking or just by making a small donation,” said Makhoba-Dlamini.

Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit superviser Leitah Mkhabela said Africa’s rangers were stretched to capacity and they continued to see drastic cuts in resources and increased poaching due to the economic impact of Covid-19, so they needed the support provided through this challenge now more than ever.

Those interested in participating in the challenge or supporting were encouraged to visit http://www.wildliferangerchallenge.org

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