Couple Rob and Melani Walton’s support of African Parks began over 18 years ago in 2003, where they began managing two other wildlife reserves. Since then, they have made several funding donations, supporting the rehabilitation of Akagera National Park in Rwanda in 2010, with further support in 2016 and 2017 for the translocation of 520 elephants.
Most recently they have made a generous donation of over $100 million, one of the largest contributions ever made, to support Africa’s efforts in protecting 30% of protected areas and biodiversity. The donation will be allocated over the next five years, helping to support the African Park’s in their everyday functioning, with long-term management in areas including wildlife protection and landscape restoration. The donation will impact other areas, including:
- Ensuring sustainable livelihoods for local communities.
- Protected area land management.
- Community development.
- Biodiversity conservation.
- Law enforcement; sustainable financing; infrastructure and overall governance.
Under the management of Rob and Melani, almost all poaching threats have been eliminated, as well as 80% of key wildlife populations increasing. The parks also help those in need of education, supporting over 100,00 children in their studies and giving them access to the resources they need to learn effectively.
“As global citizens, we have a responsibility to protect our planet and the people and species that create our dynamic, 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 and African Parks Board Member.
In order to meet their goal of protecting 30% of biodiversity and protected areas, African Parks conducted a thorough analysis of data and identified 161 ‘anchor areas’ within the continent that have the greatest chance of harbouring global significant biodiversity. With currently only 69 areas being protected, African Parks hopes to push for all 161 to be protected, which would generate a adequate push towards their goal of safeguarding 30% of Africa’s wildlife and ecosystems, as well as improving livelihoods for many locals.