Every time you see a lion, leopard, wild dog or pangolin, one of the main reasons for its survival is a ranger. Unseen and unsung, wildlife rangers across Zambia work day and night to protect the country’s incredible biodiversity. They rack up long hours, face malaria and often have little access to shelter or even clean water when they’re out on patrol. Many suffer direct threats of violence, sometimes from the communities they are helping (rangers contribute directly to wider job creation by protecting the very animals that are drawcards for employers like lodges, camps and other suppliers).
Zambia is unique in that around 40% of its land mass is under some sort of protection, in the form of national parks, game management areas and forest and botanical reserves. Despite this legal protection, trained rangers are needed more than ever as increasing threats loom from loggers, poachers, traffickers, miners and more.
The 2023 Wildlife Ranger Challenge
On Saturday 16 September 2023, six fit, keen and trained teams of rangers will represent Zambia in the Wildlife Ranger Challenge. This gruelling race sees more than 100 ranger teams from across Africa undertake a co-ordinated 21km / 13mi half-marathon through tough terrain, all while carrying 22kg / 48lb of equipment. Physical fitness is a crucial element to being a successful ranger and the training is relentless.
In 2022, the Nsumbu men’s and women’s teams won individual challenges so we’re holding thumbs they can go to even greater heights in 2023.
Our teams are from the following organisations:
- Conservation South Luangwa and Department of National Parks and Wildlife (DNPW)
- Nsumbu Tanganyika Conservation Program with the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS)
- North Luangwa Conservation Programme with the FZS and the DNPW
- Conservation Lower Zambezi
- Game Rangers International in Kafue and Rufunsa
- Musekese Conservation in Kafue
The race is organised by Tusk, Game Rangers Association of Africa and Natural State.
To find out more about Zambia’s entrants, please click here and choose ‘Zambia’. We’re up against 15 other African countries – no pressure…!
How You can get Involved
In addition to donating directly to each team by clicking the links above and choosing ‘sponsor’, you can also get involved by:
- Registering to run, swim, cycle and more in solidarity with Africa’s rangers in 5km, 10km or 21km routes, wherever you are in the world.
- Taking the WRC quiz to test your knowledge of nature and game ranging.
- Joining the push-up challenge. On 7 August, see who can do the most push-ups in two minutes. Nsumbu won both the men’s and women’s categories in 2022.
- Joining the sit-up challenge on 4 September to clock up as many in two minutes as possible. 356 is the number to beat. The Nsumbu women’s team was triumphant in 2022 with 242 in 120 seconds.
Domestic dogs form the backbone of many anti-poaching units and haven’t been forgotten. The K9 challenge will happen on 3 July 2023 to test the abilities of dogs and their handlers. Check it out here.
We wish all rangers very good luck – make us even prouder!
PHOTOS Marcus Westberg and Conservation South Luangwa