SUPPORTING CONSERVATION: Jack Ma (in the centre) at the African Ranger Awards Ceremony on Monday.
Cape Town - Jack Ma, co-founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, has pledged his support for environmental and wildlife conservation, saying rangers should not only be given monetary assistance but resources and technology to carry out their work more easily.

He was speaking at the African Ranger Awards Ceremony at the Westin Hotel in the city yesterday.

The awards, a brainchild of the Paradise International Foundation of which Ma is co-chairperson, seeks to raise awareness of the need to conserve Africa’s wildlife, emphasising the critical role that front line rangers play in conservation.

The awards recognised the contribution of 50 African rangers who have been doing exemplary work in their field. Two were South Africa’s Craig Jake Williams of Kruger National Park and Hans Makatu of Mapungubwe National Park.

Ma said rangers were heroes, protectors and job creators.

“Rangers have terrible equipment, poor working conditions and spend less time with their families. If they protect us, we should protect them and their families.

“Through Paradise, Alibaba plans to awaken the conscience of people,” he said.

Ma said with each technology revolution there was often a world war associated with it.

“Human beings face a third technology revolution, and not a third world war. If there is a war, it should be against poverty, diseases and environmental pollution.”

Among the guests attending the awards were Environmental Affairs Minister Dr Edna Molewa and Erik Solheim, UN environment executive director and under-secretary-general.

In her address, Molewa expressed her appreciation for the event and efforts made by the Chinese in the country. She said rangers were exposed to challenges daily.

“They battle wild vegetation fires, extreme harsh weather and are confronted by armed poachers. Rangers are always in the front line. We need to take care of them and their families. Surrounding communities also have to be taken care of because they are lured by poachers due to poverty. Let’s fight poverty,” she said.

Sean Willmore, director of The Thin Green Line and president of the International Ranger Federation, said rangers had no insurance and many of their families were left destitute.

He said annually about a 100 rangers were killed in the line of duty.

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Cape Argus