South African rangers to show their skills at Wildlife Ranger Challenge  

Posted on 8 August 2022 By Anita Froneman

The need for anti-poaching and anti-trafficking patrols throughout Africa is mounting every day, with 259 rhinos poached for their horns in the first six months of 2022 in South Africa alone. This is in addition to the 451 lost to poaching in 2021.

This year, South African rangers are once again gearing up to join over 100 ranger teams from 15 African countries to take part in the gruelling 21km half marathon on Saturday, 17 September, which coincides with the African Ranger Congress taking place in Kasane, Botswana.

Although rangers play a vital role to limit the impact of poaching and protect the habitats of endangered species, they are broadly under-resourced and under-appreciated.

Rangers tusk

Picture: TUSK

The 2022 Wildlife Ranger Challenge is a multi-million-dollar fundraising initiative, which has raised more than $12 million for this worthy cause since being initiated in 2020. This year, in addition to raising much-needed funds for the continent’s wildlife protectors, the Challenge will shine a light on the ever-increasing and diversifying role of rangers to demonstrate their impact as conservationists, teachers, community support workers and leaders.

‘It’s a race with one goal – to support rangers who have been under pressure with drastic cuts in resources over the past two years. With COVID-19 restrictions easing, this long-awaited challenge will help shift COVID-recovery for the conservation and tourism sectors,’ says Charlie Mayhew MBE, Chief Executive of Tusk, one of the organisers behind the Challenge.

‘Initiatives like the Wildlife Ranger Challenge play a big role in highlighting conservation and the role of rangers across the continent. The Challenge has to date supported over 2,000 rangers, 59,500 livelihoods, 45 endangered species, including elephants, pangolins, rhinos and lions, and 302,684km² of ecosystem across 24 African countries,’ Mayhew adds.

The marathon will put rangers under a series of mental and physical challenges, including a mini-challenge for ranger teams with a canine unit to demonstrate their tracking skills. But this year, Tusk and its partners, the Game Rangers’ Association of Africa, and NATURAL STATE are also hoping to set a Guinness World Record for the fastest half marathon carrying 22kg.

A key focus of the 2022 Challenge is to educate and correct misconceptions that rangers are just men with guns chasing poachers. The Challenge will showcase the multifaceted nature of the job and the skills of rangers from different backgrounds, varying ages, and gender.

‘Women are starting to break through in what can be considered a very male-dominated profession and proving to play a vital role in protecting Africa’s rich natural heritage. From deterring poachers out in the field, tackling biodiversity loss to teaching the value of conservation among local communities, women bring a different and much-needed skill set, experience, and knowledge to the ranger workforce,’ says Sergeant Belinda Mzimba, member of the Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit in South Africa.

The public in Africa and around the world are encouraged to participate alongside the rangers in various ways. Supporters can run in solidarity with Africa’s rangers, donate to this worthy cause or simply help spread the word.

To find out more, visit or email [email protected]

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