Uganda Conservation Foundation enters 21km charity ranger run for wildlife conservation as park funding plummets due to lost tourism
UCF founder issues stark warning on the future of Uganda’s parks if rangers not given additional support
28th September 2020, Kampala, Uganda: On 3rd October, three teams of four runners, supported by the Uganda Conservation Foundation (UCF), a charitable organisation dedicated to protecting Uganda’s national parks, conservancies and protected areas, will be taking part in the global initiative, the Wildlife Ranger Challenge. This is an urgent new drive to shine a light on the vital work carried out by wildlife rangers across Africa and to raise funds to support them in the face of drastic shortages in resources due to the devastating economic impacts of Covid-19.
International tourism is vitally important to the survival of Uganda’s national parks which attracts visitors from around the world to see lion, leopard, pangolin, rhino, giraffe, mountain gorillas and chimpanzees. However, Uganda’s parks are faced with a devastating 95% drop in funds due to the halt in tourism caused by Covid-19. This loss of income, has had a profound impact on the funding of day to day running costs associated with keeping the rangers patrolling the parks to protect and rescue wildlife.
Michael Keigwin, founder of Uganda Conservation Foundation who was awarded an MBE for his services to conservation said, “In 20 years of working in conservation in East Africa, I have never been more concerned than I am now for the future survival of these extraordinary parks, the wildlife which live in them and the communities who depend on thriving parks for their livelihoods and survival. Poaching, snaring and poisonings are rising at an alarming rate and on a scale we have never seen before. This is a heart-breaking set back which threatens to wipe out years of recovery and conservation action. The Uganda Wildlife Authority anti-poaching team in Murchison Falls National Park is the one reason why the Nubian giraffe numbers have recovered from 400 to 2000. A huge success, that is now vulnerable.
We desperately need additional funding to keep ranger operations running, simple things like ensuring rangers have food rations for patrols, fuel for the patrol cars, vets have the drugs they need to rescue wild animals trapped in snares and community conservation rangers can protect local communities from elephants eating their crops and lions eating their cattle.
The Wildlife Ranger Challenge is an excellent initiative to bring attention to the seriousness of this situation in Uganda and elsewhere in Africa. Although my team has a combined age of 170 and we won’t be beating our fantastic ranger teams to the finishing line, we hope that our efforts help us to meet our fundraising target of £10,000 to keep our rangers out in the parks, with the basic equipment they need to protect wildlife so that future generations can witness these magnificent animals in their natural habitat.
Two teams of four rangers will join us for the 21km run in Murchison Falls National Park on the 3rd October. The teams from Queen Elizabeth and Murchison Falls National Park have been training hard and are far more ready to go than we are!
We will be joining 70 other teams from across African protected areas to bring attention to the plight of rangers and their families, supporting whole communities who directly and indirectly rely on tourism and thriving national parks for survival.”
Charles Tumwesigye, deputy director field operations at the Uganda Wildlife Authority added, “We are grateful to have the opportunity to raise awareness of the work that we are doing on the front line of conservation, and to shine a light on the problems that we are facing due to the economic impacts of the global pandemic. We cannot afford to lose the battle against poaching if we want to preserve our wildlife for the next generation.”
Private Inzama, a 23 year old ranger in Queen Elizabeth National Park commented, “We work in tough conditions, in all weathers, and can often face danger in our day to day work protecting our wildlife from poachers. We hope the Wildlife Ranger Challenge will help to raise money to support the work that we do, so that we can stop poachers before they kill our precious animals. On 3rd October, I will be joining more than 1000 fellow rangers from different countries across Africa to show the world that we are all still working hard to save our wildlife.”
Notes for Editors
About Uganda Conservation Foundation (UCF)
UCF was established 20 years ago as a Charity registered in the UK and Uganda which is dedicated to supporting the protection of Uganda’s protected areas and regional development.
We do this through supporting the Uganda Wildlife Authority in a range of projects, which include: recovering and reconnecting neglected protected areas and supporting the recovery of their wildlife population, mitigating human – wildlife conflict and improving livelihoods of communities close to protected areas. We work in close collaboration with our partners, primarily international conservation and development organisations.
Making a donation via these links will see the funds come directly to Queen Elizabeth National Park and Murchison Falls National Park:
For all media enquiries, please contact
Annabel Bailey: Annabel@gongcommunications.com
Uganda Conservation Foundation is a pro bono client of Gong Communications.
See images attached.