Conservation Africa News –
The news story that broke a few days ago was difficult for anyone who’s been on safari or wants to go to read: 350 elephants found dead in Botswana. This is an example of widespread decimation when wildlife doesn’t have protection. According to Dereck and Beverly Joubert who have worked in Africa for over 30 years as conservationists, award winning filmmakers and owners of top flight safari lodges in Botswana, Kenya and Zimbabwe through their company Great Plains Conservation, since COVID-19 reduced tourism to the continent, poaching is on the rise. To help combat this destruction, they’ve launched a program, Project Ranger, to rehire rangers as protectors but they need the public’s help.
“With tourism frozen millions of acres of land are left vulnerable. We often don’t realize just how important tourism is for conservation,” they explain. “Tourists, guides, just presence is important in so many places. Now without tourism its not just the land that is vulnerable, our communities are too. So we started Project Ranger to at least get these conservation front line workers back into the field, paid and supported. It costs us a little over $500 per month, approximately $6500 a year, to keep a ranger in the field, and we estimate we need a year of emergency funding.”
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The Jouberts have extensive experience running wildlife campaigns. Their National Geographic Big Cats initiative has 120 projects running in 27 countries and their Rhinos Without Borders program which removes this endangered animal from poaching hot spots to secret locations has so far moved 87 to safer destinations. For Project Ranger, their company has put up $250,000, involved partners such as ROAR AFRICA, Wildaid and Pilgrim Africa and is asking others to contribute with the aim of hiring 5000 rangers. 54 have been hired so far and placed in Botswana, Uganda and South Africa with another project in Zimbabwe set to launch. Projects are selected by a scientific committee.
Clearly, they’re hoping that contributions will come in as quickly as possible because the situation is urgent. “Frankly without this effort, and rangers in the field,“ they explain, “there won’t be the numbers of wildlife left in Africa when tourism can return.”
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