For the third time in a row, over 100 ranger organizations from more than 20 African countries came together for the Wildlife Ranger Challenge 21km Half Marathon on September 17, including an all-star team attending the African Ranger Congress in Kasane, Botswana. The first place team was the DNPW Nsumbu team from Nsumbu National Park in Zambia with a time of 02:08:56.
In a world first, the event saw an elite team of four rangers from three African countries come together to rise to the challenge in a display of pan-African camaraderie and teamwork. Rangers competing in Kasane and across the continent completed the grueling half-marathon challenge at 22kg (10kg for women’s teams) – a weight equivalent to an average fully packed check-in suitcase.
Rangers racing through Africa’s protected areas united around a common goal: raising vital funds for Conservation at the forefront Efforts at a time when resources are scarcer than ever. The campaigns of previous years have taken in more than 10 million poundsthat Tusk intends to build on when the final fundraising results are in.
As guardian of natureGame wardens play a crucial role in protecting natural, cultural and historical heritage. However, rangers all too often work in poor and dangerous working conditions.
according to a Global survey of ranger working conditions According to WWF, the average ranger works nearly 90 hours a week, with over 60 percent of respondents on patrol or outposts lacking access to safe drinking water and nearly 40 percent reporting regularly lacking access to shelter while on patrol at night.
The lack of resources is compounded by extremely dangerous working conditions with all too frequent threats, violence, injuries and illnesses. Up to 70 percent of rangers surveyed by WWF have contracted malaria within 12 months, and over 40 percent have received threats from community members. Tragically, as reflected in the , a number of rangers are paying the ultimate price roll of honor screened during the annual Tusk Conservation Awards.
The Wildlife Ranger Challenge aims to increase support for the ranger workforce by raising critical funds that will help expand access to essential equipment, enhanced training and conservation efforts. The Challenge is also intended to be a catalyst for the development of the ranger profession by increasing recognition of the critical role of rangers.
Too often game wardens are deeply misunderstood. However, the rangers who competed in the Wildlife Ranger Challenge Half Marathon reflected the great diversity within the profession, many of whom have played wide-ranging roles as conservationists, teachers, community workers and leaders, as well as helping to protect wildlife and support their immediate communities , but too global U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.
This year’s race day coincided with that African Ranger Congress was held in Kasane, Botswana, where Tusk and its partners, the Game Rangers’ Association of Africa and NATURAL STATE, brought together delegates to take part in the challenge. The All-Star team present at Kasane also tried to set the fastest known time for 21 km while carrying 22 kg. While that record was not set in 2022, the pan-African team’s team spirit made the Wildlife Ranger Challenge a major talking point at Africa’s largest professional gathering of game rangers.
Public participation in the event stretched far and wide, with members of the public from around the world walking in solidarity with the rangers in their hometowns. The race was also preceded by a series of mental and physical tests, with a new mini-challenge scheduled this year for teams of rangers with canine units, where dogs and handlers showcased their tracking skills.
The Wildlife Ranger Challenge has real power to make a difference. With appropriate support from the Scheinberg Relief Fund and the vital partnership of Game Rangers’ Association of AfricaTusk looks forward to seeing this Africa-for-Africa initiative transform and reach even greater heights.
Find out more and donate to a good cause at www.wildliferangerchallenge.org
George Kamasiai, Anti-Poaching Unit Team Commander, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy: “I was proud to be part of the all-star team representing the Wildlife Ranger Challenge at the African Ranger Congress. My work as a ranger is complex and varied. While we are often seen as working exclusively on site, we recognize the importance of engaging local communities in conservation through development, education and advocacy. I hope the team’s race on September 17 helped highlight the critical work of my colleagues across Africa who stand between wildlife and extinction.”
Bear Grylls, Adventurer and Tusk Ambassador, says: “The times that rangers have reached across Africa have been exceptional and reflect the exceptional caliber of the people working on the frontlines of Africa’s protected areas. Despite tremendous challenges, the rangers continue to go above and beyond and could no longer deserve our support.”
Charlie Mayhew MBE, Tusk Chief Executive, said: “The Wildlife Ranger Challenge brings the vital work of rangers to the fore by providing an opportunity to generate critical funding for the men and women who work on the front lines of conservation. The campaign has so far supported over 9,000 rangers in 24 African countries and has become a stepping stone from which the full profession of ranger can be recognized and developed.”
Mark Scheinberg, Founder of the Scheinberg Relief Fund, says: “We are proud to support the Wildlife Ranger Challenge in its third year, a vital event that highlights the incredible efforts of rangers across Africa and provides important means of supporting their livelihoods, of the wildlife sanctuaries in Africa they live in and the iconic wildlife they work so hard to protect. It was a personal pleasure to meet dozens of rangers in Kenya last year – true local heroes. Without their daily efforts, wildlife in the region and across Africa would not survive.”
The full results tables for the Wildlife Ranger Challenge 2022 can be found here (https://bit.ly/3S3GHVg).
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Tusk.
More pictures: https://bit.ly/3S22nBg
For more information please contact:
Anna Kelly | +44 (0)7786 301613 | [email protected]
Tusk Trust, 4 Cheapside House, High Street, Gillingham, Dorset SP8 4AA, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 (0)1747 831005 | Email: [email protected] | UK Registered Charity No. 1186533
For more than 30 years, Tusk has worked to amplify the impact of progressive conservation initiatives across Africa. Since its inception, Tusk has helped power an impressive lineup of successful conservation projects in more than 20 countries. These initiatives have not only enhanced vital protections for more than 40 different endangered species, but also helped alleviate poverty through sustainable development and education in rural communities that live alongside wildlife.
Tusk works with the most effective local organizations and invests in their deep knowledge and expertise. By supporting and promoting their conservation programs, Tusk helps accelerate the growth from an innovative idea to a scalable solution. The charity, of which Prince William is Royal Patron, has raised and invested over £100m since it was founded in 1990.
About the Scheiberg Relief Fund:
The Scheinberg Relief Fund is the founding donor of the Wildlife Ranger Challenge. It was founded by businessman and philanthropist Mark Scheinberg and his family in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Its mission is to provide meaningful difference with strategic, impactful relief to individuals and communities in places where family has a personal or business presence. The fund works closely with a network of trusted partners in key locations around the world to identify local organizations, social service projects, charities and local communities that have limited visibility.
About the Game Rangers’ Association of Africa:
Founded in 1970, the Game Rangers’ Association of Africa (GRAA) is a non-profit organization that is the oldest, largest and most representative ranger association in Africa. The GRAA is a proud member of the International Ranger Federation (IRF) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with recognized chapters in Angola, Ivory Coast, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia.