The rangers are now themselves under threat with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Just like everywhere else in the world, tourism has come to a standstill and the park closed down. Their income has all but dried up. Fernando Salonga, a Mangyan ranger says this of COVID “I need to continue my work as a tamaraw ranger otherwise, hunters will penetrate their domain. As a Taw-buid, we have lived with the tamaraws all our lives in Mounts Iglit-Baco… so I will continue to do my job. To the kind-hearted who have helped and who continue to help us, rangers, may you be blessed. The gifts we receive during this critical period mean a lot to us.”
So far, more than 60 contributors already responded to this call for help and donated a collective US$ 9,800, almost half of the required amount. The team is now continuing to mobilize further funding with the help of a coalition of national partners, including Congresswoman Josephine Sato, who was the first person to contribute, the Ministry of Environment (DENR) and several influencers who support this noble cause. Another US$ 14,000 needs to be mobilized to support all the ranger and wardens involved.
Anyone can support this cause by donating here or sharing about this campaign on social media.
A number of other crowdfunding campaigns will be run during the coming months: supporting a zoo in Georgia, providing cash for work for idle boat operators in Thailand, promoting reforestation in Costa Rica, and helping to keep the unique nature of the Galapagos intact in Ecuador.
“Crowdfunding is not just about raising funds, it is about mobilizing a community to support a common cause, raising awareness and motivating local communities, explains Marina Petrovic from UNDP’s AltFinLab, who is a core partner and advisor to the campaign.