Johannesburg, South Africa: On World Ranger Day, African Parks is proud to announce that four extremely dedicated rangers from Liuwa Plain National Park in Zambia, Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve and Majete Wildlife Reserve in Malawi are winners of the 2018 inaugural Paradise Ranger Awards. Voster Mweene, Kasereka Kisuki Alexandre, Paul Kumwamba and Tizola Moyo were four of fifty finalists recognized for their exceptional commitment to the protection of wildlife. Established by Alibaba Foundation, Paradise International Foundation and the Founder of Alibaba Jack Ma, the Ranger Award pays tribute to the indispensable contributions made by Africa’s rangers to the conservation of our collective natural heritage facing a myriad of threats.  African Parks has the largest ranger team for any one NGO in Africa, with 1,000 rangers in nine countries working on the frontline to provide safety and security for the wildlife and people living in and around each of the fifteen parks under its management. 

“Rangers are the front-line defense against the intense and ever-present risk of poaching in Africa’s critical conservation areas. Conducting tens of thousands of patrols across park terrain and intercepting threats year-round, often as the only ready security force, their efforts are building a future in which people and wildlife can benefit from stable and ecologically functioning landscapes” said African Parks CEO Peter Fearnhead. “We simply could not protect the millions of hectares of intact African wilderness without them, and are profoundly grateful for their extraordinary dedication. The Paradise International Foundation, Alibaba Foundation and founder Jack Ma have been visionary in their establishment of this award, helping to shine a light on the critical security rangers provide for countless species and millions of people. We extend our congratulations to all of the award finalists and our sincere thanks to the Foundation and Jack Ma for honouring them”.   

Paradise International Foundation announced in July last year the establishment of a ten-year award programme to support 500 wildlife rangers in Africa, given annually to fifty rangers to illuminate their role in conservation. The 2018 recipients were selected based on the challenges they have had to surmount, the impact they have made, and the commitment, leadership and inspiration they have given to

their team over the course of service. As finalists, these exceptional qualities are exemplified in Paul Kumwamba of Nkhotakota and Tizola Moyo of Majete in Malawi, Kasereka Kisuki Alexandre of Garamba in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Voster Mweene of Liuwa Plain in Zambia. Each recipient receives a grant of US$3,000 in support of their overall efforts.

About the Rangers:

Voster Mweene, Liuwa Plain National Park

Voster Mweene, has worked in the protection of Zambia’s spectacular parks for 24 years, and as Park Ranger now oversees all law enforcement operations in Liuwa Plain National Park where he has excelled since 2015. Liuwa Plain is an extraordinary and complex landscape in which people and wildlife coexist in close proximity, which is a legacy dating back to the late 1800s when the King of Barotseland, Lubosi Lewanika, appointed his people as the custodians of the reserve. Voster Mweene has been an important part of African Parks’ efforts to ensure that both people and wildlife continue to benefit from the natural system and to mitigate human-wildlife conflict. He has been a remarkable leader in addressing challenges and maintaining a prosperous relationship between communities and the park, which has enabled wildlife populations to recover and tourism to begin to flourish. “Mr. Mweene has a wonderful ability to balance the need to conserve wildlife with the needs and wellbeing of the local communities. He is an excellent manager, communicator and leader.” Said Liuwa Plain Park Manager Deon Joubert. “The successes of the park are a testament to the efforts of him and his team, which he deservingly represents as a winner of the prestigious Ranger Award”.  

Kasereka Kisuki Alexandre, Garamba National Park

Kasereka Kisuki Alexandre has served the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) as an outstanding ranger at Garamba National Park since 2013. Throughout his time at the park, Mr. Alexandre has made rapid progress and excelled at every opportunity. After just two years in his position, he qualified for the elite and highly-trained ‘Mamba’ ranger team, and successfully completed the patrol command course, an intensive examination of his leadership capability. “Mr. Alexandre is a highly valued member of Garamba’s proficient ranger force, and was nominated for the Award because of his professional competence, astonishing courage and inspiring leadership” Said General Manager of Garamba, John Barrett. “Operating in an area that is systematically targeted by armed groups of poachers, the resolute dedication of Mr. Alexandre and his team is restoring needed security for wildlife and for people far beyond the park boundaries”.

Paul Kumwamba, Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve

Paul Kumwamba has dedicated 22 years to conservation in Malawi, where he worked for the Department of National Parks and Wildlife in two other parks before joining Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve’s law enforcement team in 2013. Mr. Kumwamba has shown true leadership and worked with unflinching integrity to achieve remarkable results throughout his extensive career in conservation. He is particularly credited for his acts of courage, including providing life-saving support to his colleagues faced with threats in the field, and his extraordinary professional record, in which he single-handedly apprehended five armed poachers while on patrol. The Park Manager of Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve Samuel Kamoto said “With his passion, dedication, and exemplary nature, Mr. Kumwamba has won the absolute respect of his colleagues, both peers and supervisors alike”, he continued “At a recent meeting, the entire team expressed that he is the best example of a true and committed park ranger”. 

Tizola Moyo, Majete Wildlife Reserve

Tizola Moyo has made a significant contribution to wildlife conservation in Malawi over the course of a lengthy 27 years. Initially employed by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, his experience and profound potential led to his recruitment by African Parks in Majete Wildlife Reserve when they assumed management in partnership with the Government of Malawi in 2003. Under African Parks’ employment, he excelled in formal leadership training at the South African Wildlife College, and has become an expert tracker and mentor in Majete’s black rhino tracking programme. Mr. Moyo has been the Deputy Law Enforcement Officer in the reserve since 2006, and with his skilled leadership and commitment has helped to ensure that not a single rhino or elephant has been poached in fifteen years of management. “Mr. Moyo and his fellow rangers have played an instrumental role in securing Majete, eliminating poaching threats and enabling African Parks to translocate more than 2,500 animals to restock the reserve, which today is thriving with over 12,000 animals” Said Majete Wildlife Reserve’s Park Manager Craig Hay. “Overcoming several remarkable challenges, his dedication to conserving his country’s natural heritage has contributed to a truly successful story of restoration”.   

Effective law enforcement is essential to the long-term sustainability of conservation areas in Africa, which are the last islands of protection for most of the world’s remaining populations of large emblematic mammals. Rangers across the continent are the bedrock of efforts to secure them from escalating pressure arising from poaching, which in many areas is being carried out by increasingly sophisticated and militarized groups, the illegal wildlife trade, and demand for land and resources. African Parks is fully responsible for the law enforcement of 15 parks it manages in partnership with governments, providing rigorous training to a team of 1,000 rangers helping to protect 10.5 million hectares of land. In 2017 alone, 549 rangers were trained, and rangers across the parks confiscated over 54,000 illicit items, removed over 48,000 wire snare traps, effected 555 arrests, and conducted 113,000 patrol days, contributing to the security and persistence of these valuable landscapes. 

Globally over the past decade, almost 1,000 rangers have lost their lives countering the myriad threats on the front line of conservation. The African Ranger Award provides needed recognition for the critical work that rangers carry out to protect our common heritage.

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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 15 national parks and protected areas in nine countries covering over 10.5 million hectares in Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Zambia. For more information visit www.africanparks.orgTwitterInstagram and Facebook

Contact:

Fran Read, African Parks

franr@africanparks.org