Nature conservancies in Africa are set to get a major boost in their operations following the launch of a 10-year conservation program in Africa by the Paradise Foundation, which is co-chaired by Jack Ma, the founder of the Alibaba Group.
Ma, who is currently the richest man in China, made the announcement Thursday in Kigali, Rwanda, during his maiden tour of the continent, where he met with various African heads of state, entrepreneurs, and conservationists.
The program, which is estimated to cost $1.65 million in total, is the first overseas conservation initiative by the Paradise Foundation, a Chinese non-profit environmental conservation organization.
“Conserving nature and protecting the resources of the human race is a calling that transcends geographic borders. The Paradise Foundation is an organization originating in China, but we care about the well-being of our planet,” said Ma, who is also a special adviser to the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
“Africa is the natural habitat for a range of wildlife that is threatened by illegal hunting and trading. We are very pleased to be able to contribute our resources to countries that need them.”
Safeguarding Mother Nature
The main objectives of the program is to foster partnerships between Chinese charitable organizations and various African nature reserves, including the Virunga National Park in Congo and the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, to safeguard the environment.
It will also partner with local conservancies to push for the creation of proper regulations against the sale of ivory, rhino horn, and other wildlife products in Africa.
The foundation, which was established in April 2015 by a group of prominent Chinese entrepreneurs, aims at preserving the environment through charitable actions and adopting a scientific and highly efficient business-management approach.
There will be cash rewards for outstanding frontline patroling staff at the reserves as well as the program’s management expenses — all of which will be fully sponsored by the Paradise Foundation in conjunction with the Alibaba Foundation.
Apart from the popular Big Five, Africa is also home to a wide range of rare birds, plants, and other natural fittings that are now facing the threat of extinction.
Statistics show that the number of African elephants has fallen below 600,000 and continues to drop at a rate of 38,000 per year. The same thing is happening to black rhinos and guerrillas.
Experts cite the continuing population growth, poverty, and illegal hunting as the main threats to wildlife in Africa.
The foundation hopes to use its program to raise awareness of sustainable development and open doors for further collaborative initiatives between China and the continent.
After visiting Rwanda, Ma went to Kenya over the weekend.