The continental-wide collapse of wildlife tourism caused by the pandemic has eliminated an essential funding stream for wildlife protection. This threatens to undo years of rangers’ conservation gains, compromising decades of development and conservation work across Africa.
The Wildlife Ranger Challenge, of which Somkhanda Community Game Reserve is a participant, is a pan-African virtual race uniting ranger teams across the continent to raise money to support the thousands of rangers affected by the pandemic and the iconic African wildlife they protect. Supporters around the world are encouraged to run in solidarity with them on October 3rd 2020. See more at wildliferangerchallenge.org
WILDLANDS has received first-phase emergency funding after demonstrating extraordinary need and impact potential. Funds will be used to bolster the ranger salaries, specifically for the anti-poaching unit to ensure that the reserve survives the impact of Covid-19 and the loss of revenue from the tourism operations at the reserve.
The Wildlife Ranger Challenge administered by Tusk and Natural State has delivered a first phase total of $2M of emergency Covid-19 relief funding to many protected areas across the African continent through the Wildlife Ranger Challenge. Further funding will be released over the coming months as the Challenge progresses.
This revenue will meet the immediate needs of recipient protected areas this year, but will only mitigate part of a significant financial deficit projected to last into 2021 and beyond.
Due to the devastating and ongoing economic impact of the pandemic, rangers across Africa have had their salaries significantly cut, and many have been furloughed – leaving families without income 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.
The Wildlife Ranger Challenge has mobilised to tackle this crisis. Funds raised will cover salaries for at least 10,000 rangers, enabling them to provide for their families, protect communities and defend endangered wildlife in some of the continent’s most vulnerable areas, including Somkhanda Community Game Reserve.
“WILDLANDS is incredibly grateful for this funding as the work we do has been hampered greatly by the pandemic. Our rangers, like everyone else, rely on these salaries to support their families and by ensuring that we have funds for their salaries, ensures that our collective wildlife and its sustainability is covered. We call on all our WILD supporters to join in the virtual event on the 3rd of October, to enter their preferred distance or donate in aid of our conservation efforts at Somkhanda. Every rand donated will be match funded by the Scheinberg fund, further increasing the funds for our rangers. We also strongly encourage our supporters to take part in the mini challenges which we will set out on our social media platforms. The work of the WILD is never done, help us support our unsung heroes battling for our wildlife,’ concludes WILDTRUST CEO, Dr Roelie Kloppers.
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Donation Link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/somkhanda-game-reserve-wildlands