The Covid Pandemic has thrust the importance of frontline health workers into our consciousness. Their tireless efforts to help fight the pandemic honored by citizens from New York City to London, they whole heartily deserve all this praise and more. While front line workers in the US have been working tirelessly to save lives, across the African continent, conservation’s frontline workers have also been working tirelessly to save lives. In fact, they have been doing so for years. Like nurses and doctors in the United States these frontline workers wear uniforms, risks their lives for the sake of others, work 24-hour shifts. Africa’s frontline conservation workers are wildlife rangers, who protect Africa’s iconic wildlife and the communities that live alongside it. Sadly, wildlife rangers across Africa seldom get the support or recognition they deserve. A recent WWF report showed that 82% of rangers in Africa and Asia had been in a life-threatening situation in last decade, and individuals in Africa earn less than $290 a month.
In South Rift Region of Kenya, no formal protected areas exist requiring wildlife (such as elephants and lions) and people to coexist. Wildlife are still able to move freely across the landscape and by doing so enhance the connectivity between Mara-Serengeti and Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystems. Over the last decade South Rift Association of Landowners (SORALO) has spent the last decade working to ensure this remains the case. Wildlife rangers hired from local Maasai communities are key part of SORALO’s conservation story and help to keep wildlife safe from people and people safe from wildlife. Doing so is no easy feat and involves conducting daily anti-poaching patrols, protecting farms from crop-raiding elephants, stopping lions from attacking livestock, saving the lives of community members attacked by elephants, hyaena, buffalo and more.
Like frontline health care workers, SORALO community rangers and their fellow wildlife rangers across Africa deserve our support and recognition. On September 18th 2021, SORALO and 150 other ranger teams across Africa ran 21km carrying 20kgs to raise awareness and money for wildlife rangers across Africa as part of the Wildlife Ranger Challenge, #WildlifeRangerChallenge, a race with one goal: to support thousands of rangers and threatened species including elephants, pangolins, rhinos, and lions.
It’s now our turn to show our support for these unsung conservation heroes. The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has partnered with SORALO for years, and we’re joining this challenge. Can you join us too?
Over the next week, would like to challenge each and every one of you to do so. You can do this in one of three ways:
- Firstly, by running, walking, or cycling, swimming,1, 5, 10, or 21km as act of solidarity to honor of rangers across Africa. For those that fancy a bit of competition our rangers ran 21km (a half marathon) carrying 22kgs (45 lbs!) in 1 hour and 39 minutes! Wow!
- Secondly, donating a small amount to support ranger salaries. All donations will go to SORALO rangers and a matching amount will be donated by TUSK trust to support the neediest ranger teams across the continent.
- Thirdly, by sharing this blog post to celebrate the rangers’ hard work on your social media!
Thanks for helping to spread the word and thank these tireless teams!