The Wyss Foundation has committed up to US$65 million to the SA-based conservation organisation, African Parks, to support the protection and management of four existing parks in Rwanda and Malawi, and to conserve up to five new protected areas in areas yet to be identified in other countries.
The parks included in the agreement are Akagera National Park in Rwanda, and Liwonde National Park, Majete Wildlife Reserve and Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve in Malawi.
The Wyss Foundation’s donation, which is expected to extend over several years, will also enable African Parks to protect and manage up to five new parks; African Parks is currently developing potential park proposals in Chad, Kenya, Mozambique and Benin and is also having discussion with the Governments of Zimbabwe and Zambia. The Wyss Foundation’s support for these new parks is in the form of “challenge grants” that will be provided, if matching funds can be raised to support the long-term stewardship of the parks.
“The Wyss Foundation is partnering with African Parks to safeguard more large wild landscapes in Africa from poaching and destruction,” said Hansjörg Wyss, Founder and Chairman of The Wyss Foundaation. “African Parks has demonstrated success in cooperating with local leaders, communities and African nations in preserving ecosystems benefiting wildlife, while supporting local communities and populations.
African Parks takes on the direct, long-term management responsibility of national parks and protected areas in partnership with governments to save wildlife, restore landscape and ensure sustainable livelihoods for local communities. It currently manages 10 parks in seven countries, totaling about six million hectares of protected areas.
A previous grant from The Wyss Foundation helped African Parks bring lions back to Rwanda after they had been hunted out of existence after the genocide 20 years ago. Seven lion were introduced in August 2015 an already seven cubs have been born, doubling the population and increasing tourism dramatically to the park.
The Foundation has also been a critical partner for African Parks in translocating up to 500 elephants between from Liwonde and Majete to Nkhotakota. In addition to these elephant, more than 1 000 head of other animals including sable, waterbuck, buffalo and impala have also been reintroduced to Nkhotakota, reestablishing viable founder populations and helping to restore the health of the park.