Jack Ma, the co-founder and executive chairman of Alibaba arrives at the 2018 African Ranger Awards. Photo: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

CAPE TOWN - Tourism, one of the largest and fastest growing industries in the world, would suffer if Africa's environment and wildlife were not protected, according to delegates who spoke at the first annual African Ranger Awards ceremony in Cape Town on Tuesday. 

The main point that delegates raised at the awards ceremony was the importance of businesses working together to help protect the continent's wildlife and environment. 

The Alibaba Foundation and The Paradise Foundation, a Chinese not-for-profit environmental conservation organisation, have come together to help celebrate the impact wildlife rangers have in curbing poaching across Africa. 

Executive director of the UN Environment Programme Erik Solheim, who was one of the first speakers at the ceremony, was quick to link the importance of large companies getting involved in protecting Africa's environment and wildlife.

Solheim said: "If Africa's environment and wildlife are not protected then we run the risk of losing out on (the tourism) industry. We run the risk of losing out on job creation and greater industrial development."

Solheim celebrated the impact that the Alibaba foundation had in highlighting the importance of wildlife rangers in protecting eco-tourism in Africa. Moreover, Solheim called on companies such as Alibaba to help in the fight to protect our natural resources. 

The UN executive reiterated the great partnership between China and South Africa in pushing transformation and the "green future". The Alibaba foundation's work with the Paradise Foundation in Africa is a clear sign that this partnership is working and the idea of transformation is growing. 

China's Ambassador to South Africa, Songtian Lin also highlighted the strong ties between South Africa and China. The Ambassador said China was committed to pushing a zero-tolerance policy when it came to poaching. 

There seems to be a clear shift in teaching Chinese consumers the importance of protecting the environment and its wildlife. Lijun Sun, the chairperson of the Alibaba foundation said the company was committed to informing their customers about the importance of wildlife and environmental protection. 

Songtian told delegates that the e-commerce titan was dedicated to giving back and that Alibaba gives back 0.3 percent of all earnings towards sustainable causes. "Alibaba is lucky to be a part of this fight." 

JACK MA

The co-founder and executive chairman of Alibaba, Jack Ma took the stage at the end of the ceremony. He began by stating how impressed he was by the impact and work done by the rangers in Africa in the fight to save our environment. 

Ma hoped to visit at least three African states each year. It was during a vacation in Kenya that he discovered his love for Africa's environment and animal wildlife. 

It was during his Maasai Mara trip that Ma realised that more companies and more individuals such as himself needed to do more to protect Africa. 

He hoped to use his company's technology, research, and resources to effect real change on the continent. 

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE