27 July 2022: Ahead of World Ranger Day on 31 July, Tusk lit up iconic London landmarks in a spectacular light display to celebrate the launch of the Wildlife Ranger Challenge 2022.
World Ranger Day is dedicated to the Rangers of the world who have dedicated and sacrificed their lives to be nature’s most devote custodians. It is a time to pause, reflect and show our gratitude to them.
Rangers play a central and multifaceted role in the conservation of some of the most vulnerable ecosystems on our planet. People usually see rangers as people who run around wildlife parks looking for poachers yet their work is much greater.
At the launch, major locations such as the Science Museum, Marble Arch and the South Africa High Commission in the heart of Trafalgar Square glowed on Tuesday, as a map of Africa was projected across these iconic buildings.
The Science Museum and a host of other London landmarks were selected for the lightshow due to their resonance with the mission and values of the Wildlife Ranger Challenge, which seeks to raise vital funds for the men and women working across Africa’s protected areas.
The map showcased the incredible number of countries represented in the Wildlife Ranger Challenge, which will see over 100 ranger teams from 15 African countries participate in a multi-million dollar fundraising initiative, culminating in a 21km half marathon on Saturday 17th September. Race day will coincide with the African Ranger Congress taking place in Kasane, Botswana, at which Tusk and its partners, the Game Rangers’ Association of Africa and NATURAL STATE, intend to bring together delegates to take part in the Challenge, with a goal in mind to setting a new Guinness World Record for the fastest half marathon carrying 22kg.
The race will be accompanied by a series of mental and physical challenges, with the public encouraged to participate alongside the rangers. New this year will be a mini-challenge for ranger teams with canine units, in which dogs and handlers will demonstrate their tracking skills. Find out more, donate to the cause and sign up to run in solidarity with Africa’s rangers at wildliferangerchallenge.org
Following the success of previous years’ campaigns, which to date have raised a total of more than $12 million, the Wildlife Ranger Challenge 2022 will have a bigger impact than ever before, with this year’s Challenge seeking to correct misconceptions of the role of rangers and support the development of the entire “rangering” profession. To support this goal, Mark Scheinberg and the Scheinberg Relief Fund, the Challenge’s founding donor, has generously committed $1 million in match-funding in support of rangers, on top of the total $6.5 million to the campaign to date.
A survey conducted by Tusk at the recent Tusk Conservation Symposium found that the top five threats to conservation over the next ten years include habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict and climate change. The skills needed to meet these challenges are indicative of the changing role of wildlife rangers.
The Wildlife Ranger Challenge 2022 will spotlight the ever-diversifying role of rangers to demonstrate their broad roles as conservationists, teachers, community support workers and leaders, contributing not just to their immediate communities but to global UN Sustainable Development Goals.
As the Challenge develops, it aims to become a movement to drive the recognition of rangering as a profession, build camaraderie amongst rangers and their colleagues across borders, and drive improvements for the welfare of rangers in the field across Africa.
Arthur Musakwa, Chief Operations Officer for Zimparks (Zimbabwe) says: “Protecting wildlife and ensuring its safety has become more pertinent amid the face of extinction of the most species. The work has become more dangerous as the poachers have become more tactical and ruthless. We are not deterred by this and our dedication and commitment are strengthened. We are the custodians of nature and everyone on earth has a part to play.”
Benson Kanyembo, Law Enforcement Adviser for Conservation South Luangwa (Zambia) says: “The threats facing wildlife and the natural world are only growing. As well as poaching, these days we also have to improve human-wildlife coexistence while at the same time addressing the impacts of climate change and population growth on land use. As rangers, we’re doing more than ever to protect Africa’s wildlife, despite the funding challenges created by Covid-19. To ensure we can continue securing a future for Africa’s wildlife, we need greater support as we not only rebuild post pandemic, but develop and expand our impact.”
Sergeant Belinda Acacia Mzimba, member of the Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit (South Africa), says: “In the past, women would be overlooked for this job because we did not fit the traditional conception of a wildlife ranger. However, over time, we have proven women play a vital role in protecting Africa’s rich natural heritage. From deterring poachers out in the field, to teaching the value of conservation among local communities, we tackle habitat and biodiversity loss from every angle, leaving no stone unturned.”
Bear Grylls, Adventurer and Tusk Ambassador, says: “Today, wildlife rangers face mounting pressures. Resources are incredibly stretched, with many working on the front line of Africa’s protected areas lacking the essential tools to carry out their work safely. With poaching rates on the rise, the demands on rangers will only become greater. Taking part in the Wildlife Ranger Challenge is a fantastic way to show you’re for wildlife rangers and ensures these conservation heroes receive the recognition and vital funds they so critically need.”
Charlie Mayhew MBE, Chief Executive of Tusk says: “I am proud that London landmarks have shone bright to celebrate the launch of the Wildlife Ranger Challenge 2022, a campaign which to date has supported over 2,000 rangers across 24 African countries. Looking ahead, we have even greater ambitions for the Wildlife Ranger Challenge. We hope the Challenge will become not only the largest pan-African sporting event, but a springboard from which the entire “rangering” profession can be recognised and developed.”
Mark Scheinberg, Scheinberg Relief Fund says: “We’re extremely proud to be supporting the Wildlife Ranger Challenge in its third year and highlighting the varied role of rangers in Africa. It was a personal pleasure and honour to meet dozens of rangers in Kenya last year – truly local heroes. Without their daily dedication, wildlife in the region and across Africa would not survive. I encourage anyone who wants to preserve African wildlife and support the men and women that protect them, to join this year’s Wildlife Ranger Challenge.”
For more than 30 years, Tusk has worked to amplify the impact of progressive conservation initiatives across Africa. Since its formation, Tusk has helped pioneer an impressive range of successful conservation projects across more than 20 countries. These initiatives have not only increased vital protection for more than 40 different threatened species, but also helped to alleviate poverty through sustainable development and education amongst rural communities living alongside wildlife.
Tusk partners with the most effective local organisations, investing in their in-depth knowledge and expertise. By supporting and nurturing their conservation programmes, Tusk helps to accelerate growth from an innovative idea to a scalable solution. The charity, which has Prince William as its Royal Patron, has raised and invested over $100m since its founding in 1990.
About Scheinberg Relief Fund
The Scheinberg Relief Fund is the founding donor of the Wildlife Ranger Challenge. It was established 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, high impact relief for individuals and communities in locations where the family has a personal or business presence. The fund works closely with a network of trusted partners in key locations across the globe to identify local organisations, social benefit projects, charities, and communities on the ground that have limited visibility.
Founded in 1970, the Game Rangers’ Association of Africa is a non-profit organisation which is the oldest, largest, and most representative ranger association in Africa.