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Rwandan National Park Rangers join Wildlife Ranger challenge to unite for colleagues across Africa

Rangers from Rwanda’s Akagera, Volcanoes, Nyungwe and the new Gishwati-Mukura National Parks today joined their colleagues from other African countries in participating in the Wildlife Ranger Challenge.

The Wildlife Ranger Challenge is a multi-million-dollar fundraising initiative to support the thousands of park rangers across Africa’s protected areas who are enduring drastic cuts in salaries and resources due to the devastating economic impact of COVID-19 and yet are still working tirelessly to safeguard the continent’s iconic wildlife.

Through the challenge, ranger teams spanning the African continent today united to compete in a half marathon race – building comradery and raising awareness of the hardship currently faced by those in their profession.

Supporters around the world were also encouraged to bolster efforts and to ‘Run with Rangers’ by taking part in a virtual 5, 10 or 21km run and donating or raising sponsorship at wildliferangerchallenge.org

A combined 110 park rangers (40 from Akagera, 30 from Nyungwe, 25 from Gishwati-Mukura and 15 from Volcanoes) from Rwanda’s four national parks each participated in a 21km run today. Conservation non-profit African Parks which manages Akagera in partnership with RDB, is participating in the Challenge with 1,000 rangers from across the 18 parks under its management in 11 countries running a cumulative distance of 21,000 km. Their participation is helping to raise funds to outfit another 1,000 rangers with basic but critical gear.

Speaking on the initiative, the Rwanda Development Board’s Chief Executive Officer, Clare Akamanzi said:

“National lock-downs and travel restrictions have resulted in significant economic deficits for many parts of the continent as tourism came to a halt. While our parks remained completely operational with the retention of staff during this challenging time, their ranger teams are uniting in solidarity with colleagues to assist those where conservation funding and resourcing have been severely impacted. Together with our conservation partner, African Parks, we are glad to be part of the Wildlife Ranger Challenge that has been created to tackle this crisis.”

 “Rangers are integral to effective protected area management. They help to create safe spaces where wildlife can return and where people can benefit from healthy ecosystems which support local and regional economies” said Park Manager of Akagera National Park, Jes Gruner. “It is important to stand together in challenging times and we are proud to be doing so with RDB, and of the rangers who are running to raise funds in support of colleagues across the continent”.