Africa specialist travel companies in the UK are joining forces with conservation charity Tusk to raise money to help fund wildlife rangers whose roles are under threat from the Covid-19 crisis.

The global African travel industry aims to complete a cumulative 30,000km bike ride – the equivalent of a circumnavigation of the continent – and UK specialists will be kicking off the attempt by cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

Ride 4 Rangers will see more than 30 people cycle the 874-mile route, starting on August 15, with other industry professionals and supporters encouraged to join all or part of the ride or take on their own challenges to contribute to help achieve the 30,000km target.

Tourism is the key funder of conservation in Africa through park fees, but the coronavirus pandemic has meant there is little money entering the conservation system and many wilderness areas are struggling to pay the rangers whose roles are critical to the protection of endangered wildlife.

Charlie Mayhew, chief executive of Tusk, said: “As we come out of lockdown we are starting to realise the effect of Covid-19 across the world, and no more so than in Africa where the economic impact of the global shut down has been devastating with the tourism and conservation sectors starved of vital revenue required to protect both wildlife and livelihoods.

“We are delighted to support this inspiring challenge.  It is wonderful to see the drive and energy of the UK Africa travel industry coming together to raise valuable funds to keep rangers on the frontline – recognising the extraordinary bravery and commitment they demonstrate on a daily basis in the protection of our natural world.”

Chris Mears, chief executive of the African Travel and Tourism Association, added: “The interdependence between travel and conservation in Africa has been thrown into sharp relief.  I applaud every effort being made by my fellow Africa travel professionals and supporters in helping protect the livelihoods of rangers on the frontline who play such a vital role in ensuring the safety of Africa’s wildlife.”

The Ride 4 Rangers Challenge aims to raise more than £100,000 as part of a wider Wildlife Ranger Challenge being coordinated by Tusk and Natural State  – a new initiativedesigned to support the salaries and deployment of African Rangers during the crisis. The initiative has been established with the support of the Scheinberg Relief Fund which has pledged to match all monies raised up to $5 million.

All funds raised will be distributed by Tusk across more than 60 reserves and protected areas throughout Africa. The fund aims to raise and distribute $10 million into the field over the next 6-9 months, supporting more than 5,000 rangers and their wider families.

To find out more about the challenge and how you can be involved or contribute, visit: www.ride4rangers.com.