2020 has been a year of unprecedented challenges. It has magnified humanity’s connectedness and dependency on nature, highlighting the necessity of protecting the environment to protect a future for both people and biodiversity.
Despite these challenges, our partnerships with Governments, communities and our supporters are giving us hope for protected areas in Africa – places that safeguard countless species and deliver essential ecosystem services that support human wellbeing. African Parks is a conservation nonprofit that manages protected areas on behalf of Governments and communities across Africa. At the close of 2020, their portfolio consisted of 19 parks in 11 countries, ensuring the sustainability of 14.2 million hectares of some of the world’s most important ecosystems.
Here are some of African Parks’ highlights from 2020:
Their conservation footprint grew with the addition of two new parks under management: Rwanda’s Nyungwe National Park, which contains approximately 25% of Africa’s primate species; and Benin’s W National Park, an anchor of the W-Arly-Pendjari Complex, one of the largest intact wild ecosystems in West Africa.
Government partners redoubled their commitments: The Government of the Republic of Congo reaffirmed a 25-year management mandate for Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Congo Basin Rainforest; and the Government of the Central African Republic signed a new 25-year agreement for Chinko, expanding the area under protection to 5.5 million hectares.
In spite of national lock-downs and a halt in tourism revenue, teams in the field kept every park fully operational throughout the year, maintaining the safety and wellbeing of people and wildlife, while extending support to local communities to limit the spread and impact of the virus.
Poaching was kept at an all-time low across the parks and key wildlife populations continued to rise: Rhino numbers are growing in Rwanda’s Akagera and in Malawi’s Majete and Liwonde National Parks with new calves born since translocations were undertaken to boost their populations.
Cheetahs were reintroduced to Bangweulu Wetlands in Zambia, signifying their return after almost 100 years; and a population of rare red-necked ostriches was re-established in Ennedi in Chad.
Pendjari and W National Parks in Benin completed a collaring operation, the largest of its kind in the region, to improve the protection of critical populations of elephant and antelope.
1,000 African Parks rangers participated in the Wildlife Ranger Challenge, running a total 21,000 km to raise funds to outfit other rangers with basic but critical gear.
These hopeful developments for wild places – and the people and wildlife they sustain – are only possible because of partnerships with Governments and committed funders. African Parks is deeply grateful for the myriad support received, including anchor donors: Acacia Conservation Fund (ACF), Adessium Foundation, Arcus Foundation, Dutch Postcode Lottery, European Union, Fondation des Savanes Ouest-Africaines (FSOA), Fondation Segré, Government of Benin, Howard G. Buffett Foundation, National Geographic Society, Oak Foundation, Oppenheimer Philanthropies, 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, UK Aid, U.S. Department of State and USAID, WWF-the Netherlands and WWF-Belgium.
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