Climate Development Sports Tourism Wildlife

Zimbabwean teams compete in Tusk Wildlife Ranger Challenge 2022

Zimbabweans participating in Tusk Wildlife Ranger Challenge 2022

The Tusk Wildlife Ranger Challenge 2022, third year in running, hosted over 100 ranger organisations from more than 20 African countries for the Wildlife Ranger Challenge 21km half marathon on 17 September, including elite field rangers from Zimbabwe.

The Conservative and Wildlife Fund (CWF) and Painted Dog Conservation joined rangers around the pan-African Wildlife Ranger Challenge to achieve the ultimate goal of raising funds to support thousands of their colleagues in the field. All participating teams completed the gruelling half marathon race while also carrying weight equivalent to an average fully packed check-in suitcase (22kg).

In a world-first, the event also witnessed an elite team of four wildlife rangers attempt to set the fastest known time for completing a half marathon while carrying 22kg. The team was comprised of the strongest athletes from the two previous years.

The Challenge, in which in guardians of the natural world raced across Africa’s protected areas, aims to build upon the last two years of fundraising, amounting to more than £10 million raised to date.

The common drive that united them was to raise vital funds for frontline conservation efforts at a time when resources are more thinly stretched than ever before.

Wildlife rangers play a critical role in protecting natural, cultural and historical heritage. According to a Global Survey of the Working Conditions of Rangers conducted by WWF, the average ranger works almost 90 hours a week, with over 60 per cent surveyed having no access to clean drinking water on patrol or at outpost stations, and almost 40 per cent reporting they regularly have no access to shelter while on patrol at night.

However, all too often, rangers operate under poor and dangerous working conditions. The lack of resources is compounded by extremely dangerous working conditions, with threats, violence, injury and disease all too common. Up to 70 per cent of rangers surveyed by the WWF have contracted malaria within a 12-month period, and over 40 per cent have received threats from community members. Tragically, a number of rangers pay the ultimate price, as reflected in the Roll of Honour screened during the annual Tusk Conservation Awards.

The Wildlife Ranger Challenge comes in to alleviate present challenges and offer support by raising vital funds, which will widen access to essential equipment, enhanced training and protective measures. The Challenge is also playing a catalyst role needed for the development of the “rangering” profession by increasing recognition for the critical roles’ rangers play.

Too often, wildlife rangers are deeply misunderstood. However, the rangers that participated in the Wildlife Ranger Challenge half marathon reflected the great diversity within the profession, with many playing wide-ranging roles as conservationists, teachers, community support workers and leaders, contributing not just to protecting wildlife and supporting their immediate communities, but to global UN Sustainable Development Goals.

This year’s race day coincided with the African Ranger Congress taking place in Kasane, Botswana, at which Tusk and its partners, the Game Rangers’ Association of Africa, and NATURAL STATE, brought together delegates to take part in the Challenge. Public participation in the event however, stretched far and wide, with members of the public from across the globe running in solidarity with the rangers in their home cities.

The race was preceded by a series of mental and physical trials, with a new mini-challenge featuring this year for ranger teams with canine units, in which dogs and handlers demonstrated their tracking skills.

The Wildlife Ranger Challenge has real power to impact change. With matched funding from the Scheinberg Relief Fund and the vital partnership of the Game Rangers’ Association of Africa, Tusk looks forward to seeing this initiative of Africa, for Africa, transform and reach even greater heights.

Find out more and donate to the cause at

George Kamasiai, Anti-Poaching Unit Team Commander, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy: “I’m proud to be part of the all-star team representing the Wildlife Ranger Challenge at the African Ranger Congress this week. My work as a ranger is complex and wide-ranging. While we are often thought of as working solely out in the field, we know how important it is to engage local communities in conservation through development, education and advocacy. It is my hope that the team’s race on 17th September helps highlight the critical work of my colleagues across Africa as they stand between wildlife and extinction.”

Bear Grylls, Adventurer and Tusk Ambassador, says: “The time achieved by the all-star team in Kasane is extraordinary, reflecting the exceptional calibre of individuals working across the front lines of Africa’s protected areas. Despite facing enormous challenges, rangers continue to go above and beyond, and could not be more deserving of our support.”

Charlie Mayhew MBE, Chief Executive of Tusk says: “The Wildlife Ranger Challenge brings the vital work of rangers to the fore by providing an opportunity to generate crucial funding for the men and women working on the front line of conservation. The campaign has to date supported over 9,000 rangers across 24 African countries, becoming a springboard from which the entire “rangering” profession can be recognised and developed.”

Mark Scheinberg, Founder of Scheinberg Relief Fund says: “We are proud to support the Wildlife Ranger Challenge in its third year, an important event that highlights the incredible efforts of rangers across Africa and raises vital funds to support their livelihoods, the conservation areas in which they live and the iconic wildlife that they work so hard to protect. It was a personal pleasure to meet dozens of rangers in Kenya last year – truly local heroes. Without their daily dedication, wildlife in the region and across Africa would not survive.”



About Tusk

For more than 30 years, Tusk has worked to amplify the impact of progressive conservation initiatives across Africa. Since its formation, Tusk has helped pioneer an impressive range of successful conservation projects across more than 20 countries, including in Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa. These initiatives have not only increased vital protection for more than 40 different threatened species, but also helped to alleviate poverty through sustainable development and education amongst rural communities living alongside wildlife.

Tusk partners with the most effective local organisations, investing in their in-depth knowledge and expertise. By supporting and nurturing their conservation programmes, Tusk helps to accelerate growth from an innovative idea to a scalable solution. The charity, which has Prince William as its Royal Patron, has raised and invested over $100m since its founding in 1990.


About Scheinberg Relief Fund

The Scheinberg Relief Fund is the founding donor of the Wildlife Ranger Challenge. It was established by businessman and philanthropist Mark Scheinberg, and his family, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Its mission is to provide meaningful difference with strategic, high impact relief for individuals and communities in locations where the family has a personal or business presence. The fund works closely with a network of trusted partners in key locations across the globe to identify local organisations, social benefit projects, charities, and communities on the ground that have limited visibility.


About The Game Rangers’ Association of Africa

Founded in 1970, the Game Rangers’ Association of Africa (GRAA) is a non-profit organisation which is the oldest, largest, and most representative ranger association in Africa. The GRAA is a proud member of the International Ranger Federation (IRF) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with recognised chapters in Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zambia.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende