New app lets users run for wildlife conservation

Posted on 21 September 2020

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Adidas Runtastic are teaming up again with Internet of Elephants and other conservation organisations to challenge runners to outrun iconic endangered individual wild animals to rally support for biodiversity protection worldwide.

The first Run Wild challenge, which took place in 2019, saw 500,000 participants try to match the distance covered over 12 days by a real, wild, tracked snow leopard called Uuliin, in Mongolia. Runners can sign up to compete with a pangolin, a tiger or an elephant in an even more ambitious challenge. Run Wild aims to recruit one million runners, symbolising the one million animal and plant species threatened with extinction, as reported by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

New app lets users run for wildlife conservation

App users can choose which animal they want to compete against.

‘Biodiversity is disappearing from our planet at an unprecedented pace. There is simply no time left – ​we need to act. We can’t just walk, we need to run to stop this,’ said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP. ‘RunWild has combined digital technology, sports, health and emotions to push us out of our comfort zones and make us race against endangered species – to save them. We encourage runners around the world to take up this challenge, for their own health and the health of our planet.’

‘At adidas, we know that sport has the power to change lives, and this is an incredible opportunity to combine forces with five important organisations to rally a global community of athletes for a more diverse and sustainable planet,’ said Scott Dunlap, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager for adidas Runtastic. ‘Digitally racing against real wild animals is also just a fun and educational experience.’

Through the free Adidas Running app, runners will try to match the distance covered by Pamoja, a pangolin whose nighttime ramblings sniffing for ants and a new mate don’t take her too far from her burrow on the Kenyan plains. Those looking for more of a challenge can try to match the roamings of Tendrel Zangmo, a territorial female tiger on the hunt in the Bhutanese forests. Runners with an appetite for distance can try to match the distance of Adjany, one of a family of 15 elephants who migrate between Angola, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia.

The challenge is open between 25 September and 4 October, providing members with a platform to call for conservation action around the UN Biodiversity Summit. Taking place on 30 September, the Summit calls on Heads of State to put forward ambitious actions to address biodiversity loss.

Biodiversity supports all aspects of human health, providing clean air and water, food and medicine, resistance to disease, and climate change mitigation. Yet IPBES found that 75% of the land-based environment and about 66% of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human activities, including deforestation and land use change for agriculture, pollution and unsustainable consumption – contributing to species’ extinction. Scientists say we have a short window of time to reverse the current trajectory that is inflicting wholesale, human induced, environmental degradation on the planet and its web of life.

The WildforLife campaign, partnering with Run Wild, tackles the illegal trade in wildlife, which is one of the key drivers pushing species to the brink of extinction. The campaign aims to inform and inspire the public and decision makers to support greater species protection and biodiversity conservation.

Climate change is furthermore exacerbating threats to wildlife and livelihoods. UNEP’s Vanishing Treasures programme aims to help people and endangered species to co-exist. In Bhutan, for example, the programme aims to find solutions to mitigate human-tiger conflict, whether this results from increased pressures on tigers and their habitat, or on local farmers. Restoring essential tiger habitats and supporting alternative livelihoods for farmers form part of an array of measures to support people and wildlife.

Download the adidas Running app free of charge for iOS and android here.

Image: Unsplash

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