Animal Conservation

Couple donates $ 100 million to conserve 57,000 square miles of African protected areas

A South African-based nonprofit conservation group that manages 19 protected areas on the continent has secured a donation of $ 100,000,000.

Gorillas in Odzala-Kokoua National Park in Congo will benefit from the donation. © Andrew Beck and African Parks

Rob and Melani Walton Foundation grant pledged to African Parks, which manages parks in eleven African countries

One of the most significant contributions to conservation in Africa ever, this commitment will help expand the reach of African Parks, preserving a significant portion of Africa’s biodiversity for the long-term benefit of local people and communities. animals.

Founded in 2000, African Parks supports the long-term management of protected areas in partnership with governments to protect wildlife, restore landscapes and ensure sustainable livelihoods for surrounding communities. Currently managing 19 parks measuring nearly 57,000 square miles (14.7 million hectares), they take full responsibility and are responsible for all aspects of protected area management, including law enforcement, community development, sustainable financing, infrastructure and global governance.

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With more than 3,200 full-time employees, 98% of whom are from local communities, and thousands of part-time employees, African Parks has become the largest employer in many of the regions in which they work. Poaching has been reduced and virtually eliminated in most of the parks under their management, where more than 80% of key wildlife populations are increasing.

In the last year alone, 110,000 people received health care in the hospitals and mobile clinics they support, and more than 100,000 children have had access to education from the schools they support around. parks. Their goal is to directly manage 30 parks measuring over 30 million hectares by 2030. This would strengthen efforts by African governments to help meet the global goal of protecting 30% of the planet for nature.

Rob and Melani Walton are long-time supporters of sustainability and conservation efforts around the world and have been invaluable partners of African Parks since its inception. “As citizens of the world, we have a responsibility to protect our planet and the people and species that create our vibrant and fragile ecosystems. We are honored to continue to work alongside African Parks, governments across the continent and community leaders to support their sustainability goals, ”said Melani Walton of the Rob Foundation and Melani Walton, Board Member of administration of African Parks.

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The commitment of $ 100M will be allocated over the next five years, of which $ 75M will go towards the creation of an endowment fund, which provides long-term funding. The remaining $ 25 million will go to maintaining the parks under African Parks management that need it most. A portion of these funds will be used for five-year matching grants in collaboration with the Legacy Landscapes Fund — to Iona National Park in Angola and Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo, with $ 10 million. additional for each park over the next 10 years.

“It couldn’t have come at a more important time… providing a stable, long-term source of funding that will contribute to the sustainable protection of some of the most biodiverse and endangered landscapes on the planet,” said Peter Fearnhead, CEO of African Parks.

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“This extraordinary donation will help realize our vision to protect vast ecosystems and their ecological functions for humanity in perpetuity. “

Fearnhead said the donation was the largest of his endowment, following a 2017 donation of $ 65 million from the Wyss Foundation to support several parks.

With this new funding, African Parks will be able to continue to increase its impact by managing more parks, continue to reduce poaching, increase wildlife populations and improve the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people across the country. across Africa.

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