Tourism rallies in support of Park Rangers

Wild Zambezi • 19 August 2020

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In July 2020 Wild Zambezi wrote a Travel Blog highlighting the fact that loss of tourism revenues as a result of the Coronarvirus pandemic is having potentially disastrous impacts on the livelihoods of Park Rangers and the safety of the wildlife that they protect. 

We listed local conservation organisations who provide support, and encouraged our readers to consider making a donation to their efforts.

Since we wrote that Blog, Wild Zambezi is delighted to report that two separate initiatives have now been launched by representatives of the tourism industry. They are very different in range and scope, but equally important in their passionate commitment to help African Park rangers in a time of crisis.

The Ride 4 Rangers Challenge has been launched by the UK Africa Travel Industry in partnership with conservation charity Tusk and will see the travel industry cumulatively cycle 30,000 km - the equivalent of cycling around Africa - to raise funds in support of African Rangers whose livelihoods are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

African safari guests, wildlife enthusiasts, conservation champions or cycling fanatics worldwide are being urged to take part by organising a cycle of 5km, 20km or 50km with friends or family locally, to help Ride 4 Rangers reach their joint 30,000km target.  Businesses can also get involved.  

In Zimbabwe, the Victoria Falls-based Zambesia Conservation Alliance and hospitality group Africa Albida Tourism (AAT) – owners of the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge and associated properties have been elected country ambassadors for this initiative.

Park Rangers and their families in the National Park areas of Zimbabwe have been particularly hard hit by the current situation as they were already under economic stress before the pandemic hit. 

The first local event saw the Victoria Falls community undertake a 65km bike ride from the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road to Robins Camp in Hwange National Park on 15 August 2020 (Click this image to watch the video).  

More local events are planned.  

The Ride 4 Rangers cycling challenge is part of a wider fund to support the salaries and deployment of African Rangers during the current crisis.

Tourism is the key funder of conservation in Africa through park fees.  But since the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic there has been very little money going into the conservation system. With most holidays on hold until next year, the Africa travel industry is in dire straits and the trickledown effect on the ground across the continent is already being felt.  

Money to pay rangers in some of world’s flagship wildlife areas in Africa is simply not there.  Prized wilderness areas are struggling to pay the salaries of the rangers that are critical to the safety of already highly endangered wildlife. The loss of park and conservancy fees from visiting tourists has meant that budgets have been cut dramatically.  Many people have been laid off which is not only having a devastating effect for the families of those rangers, many of whom have 8-10 dependants, but it is also already impacting on wildlife as a result of an widespread increase in reports of bushmeat poaching. 

The role of rangers is vital to maintain the long term protection of these wild places. Across Africa wildlife rangers are the first line of defence against illegal poaching, grazing and logging and without them many species like elephant, rhino, lion, giraffe and pangolin would be at even greater risk of extinction.

Via Tusk all monies raised as part of Ride4Rangers will be match funded and so will double the impact on the ground. Funds will be distributed by Tusk across some 60 reserves and protected areas throughout Africa . The fund aims to raise and disburse US$10 million into the field over the next 6-9 months supporting over 5000 rangers and their wider families. 


Steve Bolnick, Director and Guide of Camp Mana in Mana Pools, has employed his creative talents during the Coronavirus Lockdown period to launch a subscription-based mini-documentary series of awareness videos focused on conservation in Africa.  

His aim is to support his camp staff during these difficult times and also to raise funds for anti-poaching ranger teams in the beautiful, wildlife-rich National Park which is the setting for his intimate, environmentally-sensitive 12-bed safari camp.

He invites people to subscribe to his video channel and donates regular contributions from this to Zimbabwe-based conservation organisation The Zambezi Society which supports rangers in the field in Mana Pools (and elsewhere in the Zambezi area) by providing food supplies, essential equipment, improved training and logistical support (deployment vehicles, drivers, patrol boats etc).

Check out Steve's video documentary channel page and scroll down to watch his Introductory Video.  Subscribe to have access to the rest of the series.  

Your small contribution as patron of Steve’s documentaries will help to keep rangers in the field protecting the Mana Pools wildlife that is focal point of tourism to this magnificent Zambezi wilderness area. 


Related articles:-

Support our conservation organisations helping Park Rangers in the Zambezi's wild areas  (Travel Blog July 2020)



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