women in colorful beads dancing
Beaded Joy Members of Northern Rangelands Trust-Trading's BeadWORKS program in Kalama Conservancy, Kenya. © Roshni Lodhia

Stories in Africa

2020 Year in Review

Africa Undaunted

2020 was a year of unprecedented challenges—in Africa and across the world. But, thanks to you, we rose to meet these challenges and made tremendous progress in every country that we work.

These achievements would not be possible without our partners, community leaders, the Africa Council, and supporters like you. Thank you.

Matt Brown looking at camera
Matt Brown TNC Africa Regional Director © Beth Wald

Letter From Our Director

It was late January when my plane lifted off from Nairobi, the Kenyan landscape receding below, red earth still clinging to my boots. It had been an inspiring trip, full of wildlife sightings, sweeping sunsets—and stories of conservation success. I had no idea the world was about to change.  

Just weeks later, people across the planet were donning masks, hunkering down, and trying to stay safe. 

In Africa, the effects of the pandemic were swift. Tourism vanished, poaching increased, scarce resources became scarcer—and years of progress were suddenly at risk. 

Thanks to TNC supporters who gave generously to a new crisis fund (see p. 4), help came quickly—saving jobs and protecting wildlife. Now, as we plan for recovery, we are redou-bling our efforts on sustainable funding for conservation. 

From the very beginning, our work in Africa has been driven by the continent’s resilient spirit, which we celebrated in 2017’s annual review, “Africa Rising,” with a splendid lion on the cover. We felt this year’s report, “Africa Undaunted,” deserved another lion—a reminder of the courage demanded of us during these unprecedented times.

Whenever I feel disheartened, it’s the stories that give me hope. Like the story this May of an elephant calf, drowning in a swirling river, and the rangers who braved the currents, in the dark of night, to save him. Or the story of a giant bull elephant hauled, just in time, from a pit of suffocating mud—by rangers who were on the job thanks to you.

Those rangers never gave up. And neither will we. We’re in this together with our part-ners, supporters, and local communities. Muddy, perhaps. A bit bruised and battered. But the spirit of Africa endures—undaunted. 

Edwin Macharia headshot
Edwin Macharia TNC Africa Council member © Courtesy Edwin Macharia

From the Africa Council

“The pandemic is an opportunity to reset conservation. We need to look beyond foreign tourists and accelerate an ecosystem where all people have equal access to and benefit from nature—communities reconnecting deeply with nature to be guardians of its sustainability. Their lives and livelihoods thriving with clean water, healthy soils, and wildlife-based incomes. Tourism, water funds, and carbon offsets built for Africa with Africans at the center.”

Inside the Year in Review

  • sunset in mountains

    Reaching New Heights in South Africa

    A group of high-angle rope technicians, hired and trained through the Greater Cape Town Water. Fund, are working in rough and rugged areas to remove the water-thirsty invasive plants taking Cape Town’s water. Watch Video

  • herd of elephant

    A Global Crisis Reaches the Wild

    When the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly brought tourism to a halt, TNC supporters stepped up to keep rangers on the job and we started thinking more about long-term, sustainable revenue streams for conservation. Read More

  • seaweed farms

    Growing Sustainable Seaweed in Zanzibar

    A pilot program in Zanzibar will train seaweed farmers in more sustainable practices that can increase yields and provide co-benefits to the environment, including conservation of important marine habitats. Learn More

  • girls sitting on bunk bed

    Empowering Girls for Conservation Success

    A dormitory built with funding from TNC supporters is changing the future outlook for girls who live there. No girls using the dorm its first year dropped out of school (compared with 29 percent of their peers). Watch Teresia's Story

  • snorkeling over coral

    Seychelles Achieves Marine Conservation Goal

    We led a ground-breaking deal that protects nearly 160,000 square miles of ocean off of Seychelles while helping the small island nation pay off its debt and make important climate change adaptations. Read More


Download the PDF

2020 Africa Year in Review