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Couple Gives $100 Million to Conservation of 57,000 Square Miles of African Protected Areas

A South African-based non-profit conservation group that manages 19 protected areas on the continent has secured a $ 100,000,000 grant.

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

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

One of the largest contributions ever made to conservation in Africa, 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 animals.

Founded in 2000, African Parks takes on the long-term management of protected areas in partnership with governments to protect wildlife, restore landscapes, and ensure sustainable livelihoods for surrounding communities. They currently manage 19 parks measuring almost 57,000 square miles (14.7 million hectares), take full responsibility and are responsible for all aspects of protected area management, including law enforcement, community development, sustainable financing, infrastructure and general 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 regions where it works. Poaching has been reduced and virtually eliminated in most of the parks under its management, where more than 80% of key wildlife populations are on the rise.

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

Rob and Melani Walton have long supported conservation and sustainability efforts around the world and have been invaluable partners with 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 dynamic and fragile ecosystems. We are honored to continue to work alongside African Parks, governments across the continent, and community leaders in support of their sustainability goals, ”said Melani Walton of the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation, member of the African Parks Board.

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The $ 100 million commitment will be allocated over the next five years, and $ 75 million will go toward creating an endowment, which ensures long-term financing. The remaining $ 25 million will go toward maintaining the African Parks-managed parks that need it most. A portion of these funds will be used for five-year matching grants in conjunction with the Legacy Landscapes Fund, for both the Iona National Park in Angola and the Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo, with an additional $ 10 million for each Park. for the next 10 years.

“This could not come at a more important time … by providing a stable, long-term source of funding that will contribute to the lasting protection of some of the most biodiverse and threatened landscapes on the planet,” he said. African parks Executive Director Peter Fearnhead.

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“This extraordinary gift will help realize our vision of protecting vast ecosystems and their ecological functions for humanity in perpetuity.”

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

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

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