Jack Ma, the founder and Executive Chairman of the Alibaba Group, was among those present at the African Ranger Awards to honor 50 rangers who work on the continent to protect wildlife. The awards ceremony was organizes by The Paradise Foundation, a Chinese conservation charity co-led by Jack Ma.
Asha Mnkeni, one of the 50 rangers honored by the Paradise Foundation. Mnkeni was the first female ranger employed by Tanzania’s National Parks service.
The African Ranger Awards were held on 7 August 2018.
“These rangers are sacrificing so much to protect Africa’s wildlife against illegal hunting and trading. With this award, we hope both to recognize their important work and to bring greater attention to the ways in which we can all contribute to protecting the natural world. These awards were not only set up to reward rangers, but also to alert more and more people to pay attention to rangers, and to the protection of wild animals and the natural environment,” Ma said.
Using technology to fight poaching
Ma is not the first well known technology billionaire to come to Afrika and contribute towards helping protect wildlife. In 2017, Microsoft Co-founder, Paul Allen, embarked on a project that seeks to stop elephant poachers in Afrika using Big Data.
Elephant population trends in GEC landscapes over the past ten years based on GEC data and comparable previous surveys (methodology in Chase et al. 2016). Red landscapes declining >5%/year, orange declining 2-5%/year, yellow declining or increasing <2%/year, pale green increasing 2-5%/year, dark green increasing >5%/year. | Great Elephant Census
Other efforts to combat wildlife poaching, and specifically the poaching of elephants, include the use of tracking collars on elephants in Gabon as well as the use of Artificial Intelligence and drones in Southern Afrika to catch elephant and rhino poachers.
African Ranger Awards
The African Ranger Awards honored 50 rangers on the frontlines of wildlife conservation in 17 countries across the continent. Each of the 50 winners each receiver a $3,000 grant. In total, there were 146 nominations from 21 countries.
“Compared to everything these rangers sacrifice, our contribution is small. We hope that these awards will show them our appreciation and draw attention to their important work,” said Shawn Zhang, CEO of the Paradise Foundation.
Cover Image Credit: Jack Ma with some of the rangers fighting wildlife poaching. Alibaba Group