Story by Mhlomuli Ncube
WILDLIFE and conservation leaders joined hands to raise awareness on protecting biodiversity under the 2023 edition of the Wildlife Ranger Challenge held at Hwange National Park this weekend.
Marching against wildlife crime, rangers and conservationists united under one purpose to raise awareness on the essence of protecting wildlife.
It has now become the norm for wildlife leaders to meet around this time every year for the Wildlife Ranger Challenge, a platform which offers them an opportunity to propagate and expound on issues affecting wildlife in Zimbabwe.
Marking its third year running, the Wildlife Rangers Challenge has become an important corporate sector support mechanism against poaching.
“If we want to preserve our wildlife, we must work together,” said Painted Dog Conservancy operations manager, Mr David Kuvawoga.
“It is not only the duty of government but even the private sector, to help in conservation programmes,” said Prevail International spokesperson, Mr Dumisani Chiota.
The event kicked off at the dawn of dusk from Mabale to Hwange Maincamp. The rangers had to walk a distance of 21km carrying a 20kgs backpack as a symbol of dedication to wildlife protection. It took 2 hours and 50 minutes for the last rangers to complete the 21km journey of survival in the jungle. For the participants drawn from public and private conservancies, the message was that it matters to protect Zimbabwe’s wildlife heritage against all odds.
One of the participants said, “I walked this distance to prove my resilience and dedication to fighting poaching.”
“This means a lot to us as rangers, we sacrifice a lot to guard our wildlife,” said another participant.
“To me, the message is that wildlife is a heritage I should protect even with my life,” added another.
Challenges in conservation have seen joint efforts between the government and the private sector. As Zimbabwe’s wildlife continues to increase, there is consensus on the importance of preserving this national treasure which drives the tourism economy.