Staff Reporter, Bulawayo24 News | October 3, 2021
Cases of wildlife poaching have increased due to subdued anti-poaching activities that have been brought about by the lockdowns introduced to curb the spread of Covid-19.
This was said by Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) operations manager, Mr David Kuvawonga during the Wildlife Ranger Challenge in Dete last week.
“Africa’s rangers are stretched to capacity and continue to see the drastic cuts in resources and an increase in poaching due to the devastating economic impact of the pandemic. The Wildlife Ranger Challenge, a 21km race across the varied and challenging terrain of Africa’s protected areas will support rangers to safeguard the continent’s iconic wildlife for years to come,” he said,
Mr Kuvawonga said the pressure on Africa’s protected wildlife area is threatening to compromise decades of development and conservation success through a continental wide collapse of tourism.
“The Covid-19 crisis has eliminated essential funding for wildlife protection that comes from tourism. We also saw a rise in poaching brought by the economic stresses of Covid-19 on communities and reduced ranger presence has resulted in an increase in poaching. The threat is expected to increase further if ranger capacity is not increased and international borders open,” he said.
He said as a response to the devastation that the virus had on livelihoods of wildlife rangers, a fundraising campaign was launched to support them.
“A global campaign #ForwildlifeRanger will use the power of ranger voices, influencers and celebrities to issue a call to arms to the public support for Africa’s rangers by donating to the Ranger Fund or by taking part in the Wildlife Ranger Challenge in solidarity, wherever they are in the world.”
The rangers participated in the 21km race from Miombo Camp to Lupote Business Centre. The wildlife ranger challenge brings together more than 120 African countries in a series of mental and physical challenges, culminating in the Wildlife Ranger Challenge and this year marked the second year running. The challenge is a reflection of the vital work that rangers provide for the conservation and protection of wildlife and wild places.
Rangers do this work without a second thought despite spending a lot of time away from their families and the risks they face from wildlife and poachers. The event was supported by several stakeholders that included Forestry Commission, Zimparks, Ganda Lodge, Hwange Safari Lodge, Tikki Hywood Trust and local businesses.