News & Media

Southern African Wildlife College successfully lobbies for emergency relief funding

The Southern African Wildlife College is gratified to advise that it has been awarded emergency relief funding by The Wildlife Ranger Challenge to combat the immediate threat to operations posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The continental-wide collapse of wildlife tourism caused by the pandemic has eliminated an essential funding stream for wildlife protection. This threatens to undo years of rangers’ conservation gains, compromising decades of development and conservation work across Africa.

The Wildlife Ranger Challenge, of which the College is a participant, is a pan-African virtual race uniting ranger teams across the continent to raise money to support the thousands of rangers affected by the pandemic and the iconic African wildlife they protect. Supporters around the world are encouraged to run in solidarity with them on October 3rd 2020. See more at wildliferangerchallenge.org


View the Wildlife Ranger Challenge film

The funding received as part of the first-phase emergency funding comes after the College demonstrated extraordinary need as a result of the pandemic and impact potential in terms of ranger training and the work being done by rangers as part of the College’s K9 capability. Because of their continued presence wildlife populations will continue to be protected; the wider community will benefit through direct support to ranger families; and conservation will continue to matter.

The Wildlife Ranger Challenge administered by Tusk and Natural State has delivered a first phase total of $2M of emergency Covid-19 relief funding to many protected areas across the African continent through the Wildlife Ranger Challenge. Further funding will be released over the coming months as the Challenge progresses.

This revenue will meet the immediate needs of recipient protected areas this year, but will only mitigate part of a significant financial deficit projected to last into 2021 and beyond.

Due to the devastating and ongoing economic impact of the pandemic, rangers across Africa have had their salaries significantly cut, and many have been furloughed – leaving families without income and wildlife vulnerable and unprotected. With many rangers stretched to capacity and international and national borders re-opening, it is feared that protected areas across Africa will experience a rapid increase in illegal poaching as well as a decline in wellbeing and economic security for the communities to whom this wildlife belongs.

The Wildlife Ranger Challenge has mobilised to tackle this crisis. Funds raised will cover salaries for at least 10,000 rangers, enabling them to provide for their families, protect communities and defend endangered wildlife in some of the continent’s most vulnerable areas.

“Rangers work tirelessly to conserve our protected areas. We are grateful for their commitment and we see their sacrifices. We’d like to extend our sincere thanks to Tusk and NATURAL STATE, as well as the initiative’s founding donor, the Scheinberg Relief Fund, for supporting rangers during this crisis,” says CEO of the SAWC, Theresa Sowry.

We encourage you to go onto the link to the Challenge, which will see up to 50 ranger teams spanning the African content uniting to compete in a half marathon carrying their typical 25kg backpack and equipment. In building comradery and raising awareness a team from the SAWC will be participating

Tusk’s Royal Patron, HRH The Duke of Cambridge said; “The wildlife rangers of Africa’s protected areas are the unsung heroes of conservation, achieving so much, against the odds. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic means that many rangers are working even harder, with increasingly depleted funds. It is more important than ever that rangers across Africa have the support they need to carry on their vital work. I am therefore delighted that this new Ranger Fund will help the protected areas that need it the most and keep rangers deployed in the field.”



Tusk’s mission is to amplify the impact of progressive conservation initiatives across Africa.

The charity has earned a reputation for providing a highly efficient solution for funding wildlife conservation programmes. Tusk partners with the most effective local organisations, investing in their in-depth knowledge and expertise. By supporting and nurturing their conservation programmes, it helps accelerate growth from an innovative idea to a scalable solution.

For more than 30 years, Tusk has helped pioneer an impressive range of successful conservation initiatives across more than 20 countries, increasing vital protection for over 70 million hectares of land and more than 40 different threatened species. But the threat to Africa’s unique natural heritage remains real and more urgent than ever. More information available at www.tusk.org


The mission of NATURAL STATE is landscape restoration at scale. Through large-scale restoration projects our objective is to sequester and store carbon, secure biodiversity and make measurable advances towards the sustainable development goals. In addition to implementing large scale restoration projects, NATURAL STATE develops innovative technology and financial mechanisms to unlock private sector capital, thereby accelerating restoration efforts globally. More information available at www.naturalstate.org


The Scheinberg Relief Fund was established by businessman and philanthropist, Mark Scheinberg, together with his family, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Its mission is to provide strategic, high impact relief for individuals and communities. As well as reducing the short-term impact of the virus, the Fund also seeks to build a legacy in the communities and initiatives that it gives to, by providing funding for projects that secure a longer-term impact. More information available at www.scheinbergfund.org