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© Jasper Doest/ WWF

by Alice Ruhweza, Africa Regional Director

Africa has a long and special relationship with nature. But too often, we take that relationship for granted. Like any important relationship, it must be nurtured. However, conservation has all too often been elbowed aside by economic gain, infrastructural development, and the desire for modern-day conveniences. As we celebrate 60 years of WWF’s existence, it is time to reflect on that relationship and to reset it to restore balance and harmony.

Nature is everyone’s business, and to ensure that we capture the power of Africa’s voices, we must bring people together across sectors, cultures, and economics to address the critical challenges of inequality, gender, power dynamics, and corruption that may hamper conservation success. 

Through our Africa Conservation Strategy, WWF identifies an inclusive, whole-of-society path to conservation success. In this African strategy, we place fundamental importance on an inclusive societal approach to achieving conservation success.

This is what we have achieved to this end, in the past 60 years.

Watch 60 years of our work in action

For 60 years, WWF has been working across Africa. Here are our greatest successes.

Our founders launch the World Wildlife Fund to help save the world’s wildlife.

We help fund a pioneering new college in Tanzania for protected areas management training; thousands of wildlife managers from around the world have since benefitted.

WWF Madagascar's first ever project involved setting up a small reserve dedicated to the protection and prosperity of the Aye-aye lemur, leading to the creation of the Nosy Mangabe special reserve.

With rhino numbers under growing pressure, we support the East African Wildlife Society’s trial introduction of southern white rhinos from South Africa to Kenya – followed by other conservation efforts to safeguard rhino species in the coming decades.


WWF fundraising campaign helps buy land around the world-famous Lake Nakuru National Park in Kenya, followed by further conservation programmes for this key flamingo feeding ground.


We change our name to World Wide Fund for Nature – the change from “wildlife” to “nature” reflects our broadening scope – and use the acronym “WWF” in our communications.

Cameroon’s Korup National Park is established with WWF support, one of the first to include local people in the planning process; our efforts continue there to help both nature and communities thrive.
WWF's campaign to save the African elephant plays an important part in the decision by CITES to enact a ban on the international ivory trade.
Start of the CBRNM (community based natural resource management programme) in Namibia which has since set up 87 communal conservancies across the country which put local people in control of managing the land and wildlife on their doorsteps. Today, conservancies cover 20% of the country and bring in around US$10 million per year in tourism revenue.
We launched the magazine Vintsy (from the Malagasy word for kingfisher), which is read and loved by young people across the country. There are now 750 Vintsy clubs right across the island, giving them the guidance and inspiration they need to become active eco-ambassadors in their communities. More than 41,000 young Malagasies are active members of the Vintsy movement.

We set up a programme in the Central African Republic to enable gorilla tourism and research in Dzanga Sangha National Park

WWF helped bring together the heads of state from six Congo Basin countries in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon. This led to the Yaoundé Declaration, in which the leaders promised to cooperate to conserve the forests.
Launch of WWF South AFrica’s SASSI (Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative) programme empowering consumers, suppliers and restaurants to make informed choices about the fish on their plates.

The world’s largest grassroot campaign for the environment; Earth Hour is now global with several locations in Africa celebrating.

The African Rift Lakes Program kicks off in East Africa.
UNESCO names Central African Republic’s Dzanga-Sangha and the surrounding area, Sangha Trinational, a World Heritage site.
In its 50th year in Madagascar, WWF empowers women in Madagascar through Solar Technology training at a college in India.
WWF celebrates a major milestone in protecting Virunga National Park in DRC against controversial oil exploration inside the park.

Years of work resulted in the signing of the transformational Greater Virunga Transboundary Collaboration by the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda – cementing their commitment to preserving the unique landscape they all share. The transboundary collaboration was originally intended to curb poaching and ensure the safety of the mountain gorillas but it later expanded to include the northern part of Virunga in the DRC and other parks in Uganda such as Queen Elizabeth, Rwenzori Mountains and Semuliki National Parks.

10th Earth Hour celebrated bringing together more than 3 million people across Africa to call for climate action.
WWF Africa inaugurates the WWF Africa Youth Award giving Africa’s youth a platform to engage with thought leaders in conservation.
WWF and partners petitioned the President of Zambia to protect the Luangwa River. Close to 200,000 people worldwide signed the petition, amplifying the concerns of the 25 communities.

WWF Tanzania launches the Tanzania National Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Guidelines. In order to ensure full consideration of environmental, economic and social aspects of development proposals at all levels of decision making


The Zambian government halts commencement of mining activity in Lower Zambezi National Park following heavy campaigning from WWF and partners.

Kampala Capital City Authority in Uganda imposes a fine of $540 USD to persons caught littering the city with plastic bags and bottles. Before this, In 2005, Eritrea became the first to adopt an outright ban on plastic bags. As of May 2020, 34 out of Africa’s 54 countries have either passed a law banning plastics and implemented it or have passed a law with the intention of implementation.


Salonga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the largest protected area of dense rainforest in Africa, was removed from a list of globally endangered sites. 


The Ivindo National Park in Gabon was named on the UNESCO World Heritage List