Chinese environmental organisation founded by Alibaba boss Jack Ma extends African Ranger Award

Programme expands links to Botswana, Kenya, Gabon and Uganda leaders to honour 500 wildlife rangers

Joel Sadler/Space for Giants
Joel Sadler/Space for Giants

A Chinese conservation organisation launched by some of China's wealthiest entrepreneurs is boosting nominations for a pioneering wildlife rangers' award by extending its links to national wildlife services in key African countries.

The Paradise Foundation, founded by Chinese business leaders including Jack Ma the executive chairman of China's answer to Amazon, Alibaba Group, will work with the Giants Club, an international wildlife conservation organisation founded by four African presidents.

The Foundation's Ranger Award Programme, its first overseas initiative, was set up to honour 500 outstanding wildlife rangers in Africa over a period of 10 years with grants and support to expand their work.

The award programme was announced last July during the Foundation delegates’ visit to Africa, led by Jack Ma, co-chairman of the Foundation. Nominations for the first 50 awards are now underway and will close on 1 April 2018.

Under the new partnership, the Giants Club will work with the national wildlife services and respected partner organisations to nominate individuals for the Ranger Award 2018 from each of its member countries, under the guidance of its founding presidents – the Heads of State of Botswana, Kenya, Gabon and Uganda

“The Ranger Award is designed to raise awareness about threats to Africa’s wildlife and the critical role that front-line rangers play in conservation,” said Jack Ma, co-chairman of the Foundation.

“By working with the Giants Club countries, we will be able to significantly widen the reach of the Award, and thereby attract a greater number of candidates for nomination in recognition of their outstanding contribution to wildlife conservation.”

The Giants Club works closely with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks in Botswana, the Kenya Wildlife Service, the National Agency for National Parks in Gabon, and the Uganda Wildlife Authority, as well as with many other conservation ranger units.

The Giants Club is an initiative of the international conservation charity Space for Giants, which works in eight countries across Africa to protect elephants and their natural habitats.

The partnership was announced at the biennial Giants Club summit held today at Kasane, Botswana, which saw a gathering of African political leaders, philanthropists and conservation scientists.

The summit was co-hosted with Botswana’s Tlhokomela Trust, which works to protect endangered species. President of Botswana, Ian Khama, attended the event, along with senior delegations representing President Ali Bongo of Gabon, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.

“Everywhere we operate, we are always blown away by the dedication and extraordinary hard work of the frontline rangers who protect wildlife from the myriad threats they face today,” said Max Graham, Space for Giants’ Founder and CEO.

“The Paradise Foundation's Ranger Award is an incredibly powerful way for the world to say to rangers: 'Look, you do a very difficult job, and you should know that your work is not going unrecognised. Please keep going.' We’re very proud to be able to do our part to extend the Award’s reach to gather as many candidates as it can.”

The Ranger Award will disburse grants of $3,000 to 50 winning rangers each year for 10 years. The recipients will not only represent themselves, but also the achievements and challenges of the conservation projects where they work.

Candidates must be active rangers and citizens of an African country. They will be selected based on the threats and challenges they have overcome; their impact, commitment and dedication; their leadership and inspiration; and their length of service. The Foundation will organize a panel to review all applications and announce the results in August. A formal award ceremony will be organized to share the rangers’ story with public then.

The Giants Club will work with its members and partners to draw up shortlists of award candidates drawn from the four countries where it operates, and present them to the Paradise Foundation by the deadline of 1 April.

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