Accra (Ghana): On Friday November 15th, the Paradise International Foundation and the Alibaba Foundation hosted the second annual edition of the African Ranger Awards to honour its fifty finalists for 2019, including seven of African Parks’ rangers, namely: Daoba Dieudonne Komerewa of Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Benito Willie of Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi, Forment Kalaba Chisala of Bangweulu Wetlands in Zambia, Dari Narakoua and Juste Sokoutinde of Pendjari National Park in the Republic of Benin, Leonidas Mpumuje and Anthony Nzuki of Akagera National Park in Rwanda.
Established by Alibaba Foundation, Paradise International Foundation and the Founder of Alibaba Jack Ma, the Ranger Awards pays tribute to the contributions made by Africa’s rangers to protect the continent’s remaining wild landscapes. Selected from 17 countries across Africa, the finalists were recognized for their exemplary leadership and commitment to these vital places, where their actions deliver security and create safe places so that ecosystems can function and people and wildlife can benefit from them.
“The state of Africa’s wildlife and the prosperity of its people are interlinked: wildlife and wild places have economic as well as ecological value to people and countries” said Hugues Akpona, Institutional Funding Manager of African Parks and President of Benin Rangers’ Association in his keynote speech at the Awards Ceremony. “Without these natural resources, the pressures of poverty will continue to fuel more conflicts, insecurity and instability. Rangers are on the frontline helping us rewrite the narrative of mass extinctions, poverty and land degradation. It is not too late for Africa and I am hopeful for a brighter future”.
African Parks has the largest ranger team for any one NGO in Africa, with over 1,000 rangers in ten countries. In 2018 alone, the teams confiscated 59,200 illicit items, removed over 16,800 snares and effected over 790 arrests, and four African Parks’ rangers were recognized by the inaugural 2018 African Ranger Awards.
Responding to his recognition as a 2019 award winner, Juste Sokoutinde, Ranger of Pendjari National Park in the Republic of Benin said “Conservation is very important to me, because it is very difficult to restore nature when it is destroyed. It is important to maintain the ecosystem, preserve animal habitats and develop it without modifying its ability to fully play its recreational, educational, tourism role and its use for scientific research”. Dari Narakoua, Special Brigade Group Leader at Pendjari added, “I chose conservation because I am passionate about wildlife, life in the park and I’m proud of protecting nature. For young people and future generations, I intend to set a good example by the love of a job well done, respect for nature, team spirit, patience, endurance, perseverance and courage”.
Globally over the past decade, almost 1,000 rangers have lost their lives countering the myriad threats on the frontline of conservation. Established as a ten-year programme to support 500 wildlife rangers in Africa thanks to the vision of the Paradise International Foundation, Alibaba Foundation and founder Jack Ma, these awards help to shine a light on the critical security rangers provide for countless species and millions of people.
About African Parks: African Parks is a non-profit conservation organisation that takes on the complete responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks in partnership with governments and local communities. With the largest counter-poaching force and the most amount of area under protection for any one NGO in Africa, African Parks manages 16 national parks and protected areas in 10 countries covering over 11 million hectares in Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.