Confronted with biodiversity loss, climate change and a global pandemic, 2021 has been described as a watershed moment for planetary action, when ambitious, forward-thinking commitments are needed more than ever to secure the health of our planet and a better future for people.

African Parks is a conservation nonprofit that manages protected areas on behalf of Governments and communities across Africa.  At the end of 2021, their portfolio consisted of 19 parks, covering 14.7 million hectares in 11 countries, where some of Africa’s brightest conservation stories are emerging thanks to partner Governments, donors and local communities.

Here are some of African Parks’ top good news stories from 2021:

  • Government partners make new commitments: The Government of Zambia initiated a Priority Support Plan for the protection and development of Kafue – one of the ten largest protected areas in Africa. The collaboration provided technical and financial support for Kafue while discussions continue for a long-term agreement (read more). The Government of Angola has signed a MoU to develop and enter into a 20-year management agreement for Luengue-Luiana and Mavinga National Parks (read more).
  • The largest-ever gifts pledged for protected areas in Africa: The Wyss Foundation committed US$108M to African Parks as part of Mr. Hansjorg Wyss’ visionary Wyss Campaign for Nature (read more); and the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation committed US$100M, with US$75M going to the creation of the Rob and Melani Walton Endowment, which forms the largest endowment gift in African Parks’ history, (read more). These gifts will help to expand African Parks’ impact to managing 30 parks over the next decade.
  • Then there was light: Garamba National Park in DRC brought two local towns a reliable basic energy supply for the very first time, with funding provided by the European Union's Environment and Sustainable Agriculture programme and GivePower. The park launched a solar energy programme, constructing the first two solar mini-grids in Tadu and Faradje, with plans to launch a third in early 2022, bringing electricity to 14,000 households and enterprises. Read more.
  • Rhinos make history in Rwanda: The largest-ever single rhino translocation was successfully concluded, with 30 wild white rhinos introduced to Akagera National Park in Rwanda from andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve in South Africa. The translocation was a collaboration between the Rwanda Development Board, African Parks and andBeyond, with funding provided by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, to create a secure new breeding stronghold for the species in Rwanda. Read more.
  • Wild dogs resurge in Malawi and Zambia: African wild dogs were successfully translocated to Liwonde National Park and Majete Wildlife Reserve, reintroducing the species to Malawi (read more). In Liwonde, the wild dogs have already produced nine healthy pups, becoming the first litter born in the country after many years. Wild dogs were also released into Liuwa Plain National Park in Zambia, returning the species to the secure landscape. Read more.
  • “Reading Around the Reserve” reaches thousands of children: Carefully selected new books are supporting the primary school education of 24,000 children in 71 schools around Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve in Malawi, and more than 25,000 children in 55 schools around Bangweulu Wetlands in Zambia, thanks to a collaboration with UK book donation charity Book Aid International to initiate “Reading Around the Reserve” programmes. Read more.
  • Wildlife are on the rise: Across the portfolio, African Parks and their partners are protecting over 13,500 elephants, 1,505 giraffes, 545 lions, 2,052 chimpanzees, 7,585 western lowland gorillas, and 51 cheetahs – all of which are on the rise in every park under management. Wildlife translocations were carried out to support species’ population growth, including the translocation of 223 zebras to Matusadona National Park in Zimbabwe (read more); and the translocation of 10 more South African giraffes to Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi.
  • Finally, Bazaruto Archipelago National Park documented the largest herd of dugongs seen in the Bazaruto seascape and along the East African coast since the 1990s. Researchers from the park estimated the herd to contain 57 individuals, consisting of large groups with multiple calves – a truly hopeful sign of the potential for population growth in Bazaruto, which is home to the region’s last viable population of dugongs.

These positive developments for people and wildlife across the parks under management are only possible thanks to our Government, donor, and community partners. African Parks is deeply grateful for the myriad support received, including anchor donors: Acacia Conservation Fund (ACF), Adessium Foundation, Arcus Foundation, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Dutch Postcode Lottery, DOB Ecology, European Union, Fondation des Savanes Ouest-Africaines (FSOA), Fondation Segré, Government of Benin, Howard G. Buffett Foundation, National Geographic Society, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), Oak Foundation, Oppenheimer Generations | Philanthropy, People’s Postcode Lottery, Rob and Melani Walton Foundation, Save the Elephants and Wildlife Conservation Network's (WCN) Elephant Crisis Fund and WCN’s Lion Recovery Fund, Stichting Natura Africae, The Wildcat Foundation, The Wyss Foundation, U.S. Department of State and USAID, WWF-the Netherlands and WWF-Belgium.

Overall, these gains are only possible because of the myriad support received, from fundraisers including Prints for Wildlife, recommendations to friends, travel to the parks, bequests and helping to tell the story of the urgency of the conservation work, and to generous board members in Germany, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, the United States, the United Kingdom, as well as park boards.