NEW RANGER ACCOMMODATIONS
Wild Tomorrow Fund is very happy to have completed construction of a new ranger camp for our team of five rangers at our Ukuwela Conservancy in South Africa. Before building this new camp, the rangers were living in military-style large canvas tents. Last month, our new and improved ranger camp was completed, consisting of three wooden huts plus eco-friendly amenities. Read more and check out our video of Ranger Sibusiso showing you his new home at Ukuwela.
For the past three years, Wild Tomorrow Fund’s rangers had been living in two large, shared military grade canvas tents. The rangers didn’t have their own bathroom or kitchen, and had no space for their personal belongings. Although the tents were resistant to the outdoor elements, they were very difficult to keep clean, particularly during the muddy rainy season!
A crucial part of the Wild Tomorrow Fund team on the ground in South Africa are the five rangers that call the Ukuwela Conservancy home. From patrolling the fence line to ensure that there have been no incursions by poachers, to sweeping the entire property for wire snares, these rangers work daily to protect Ukuwela’s resident wildlife and ensure the property is safe. Other tasks, such as keeping the fence line clear of vegetation and maintaining pathways, are just as important as their patrols, helping to keep Ukuwela up and running!
Wild Tomorrow Fund has been working to improve the working conditions of our ranger team since purchasing Ukuwela and taking over management of the property in June 2017. Improvements to their livelihoods included an increased salary and vacation time. However, we were very aware that their living situation needed substantial upgrading.
The project to build new accommodation began in May of 2018. We decided to construct three wooden cabins with verandahs, each able to comfortably house two rangers, as well as a kitchen, a storage cabin for their tools, and an eco-friendly toilet. Each cabin (called a “Wendy hut”) would each contain two beds and two closets, with detached showers, enviro-toilets, and solar power.
The process was kickstarted by a generous donation from the Triskeles Foundation, as well as the many donors around the world who donated online during our World Ranger Day Campaign in July of 2018, with their impact doubled thanks to a matching grant from the Shinemaker Foundation.
Though it took many months to get started, the construction of the cabins began on November 17. As New Yorkers, the process seemed very slow. Rain, protests, and back-ordered windows and doors delayed the project as the ranger team waited patiently to move out of their tent.
The cabins were finished being built at the end of March, just in time for volunteers on Wild Tomorrow Fund’s April trip to help complete the finishing touches. This included installing solar power, assembling the cabin furniture, painting the inside walls, and staining the outsides of the cabins. The finishing touches were completed on April 18th, and the rangers could not wait to move in. Though the process was lengthy and it was hard work for the volunteers, and an exercise in patience for the rangers, the smiles on the rangers’ faces as they carried their belongings from their old tent and into their new homes made it worth the wait!