Run for Their Lives: Free App Challenges Users to Outrun a Pangolin, Tiger and Elephant in Clarion Call for Conservation

Human Wrongs Watch

Nairobi, 17 September 2020 (UN Environment)* – The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and adidas Runtastic are again teaming up with Internet of Elephants and other conservation organizations to challenge runners to outrun iconic endangered individual wild animals in a bid to rally support for biodiversity protection worldwide.



  • Unique challenge aims for one million people to #RunWild #ForNature and represent one million threatened species
  • Collaboration between UNEP and #adidasRuntastic, supported by Internet of Elephants
  • New ‘Run Wild’ challenge targets UN Biodiversity Summit decision makers

The first Run Wild challenge, which took place in 2019, saw 500,000 participants try to match the distance covered over 12 days by a real, wild, tracked snow leopard called Uuliin, in Mongolia.

Runners can sign up as of today to compete with a pangolin, a tiger or an elephant in an even more ambitious challenge. Run Wild aims to recruit one million runners, symbolizing the one million animal and plant species threatened with extinction, as reported by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

“Biodiversity is disappearing from our planet at an unprecedented pace. There is simply no time left – ​we need to act. We can’t just walk, we need to run to stop this,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP.

RunWild has combined digital technology, sports, health and emotions to push us out of our comfort zones and make us race against endangered species – to save them. We encourage runners around the world to take up this challenge, for their own health and the health of our planet.”

“At adidas, we know that sport has the power to change lives, and this is an incredible opportunity to combine forces with five important organizations to rally a global community of athletes for a more diverse and sustainable planet,” said Scott Dunlap, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager for adidas Runtastic. “Digitally racing against real wild animals is also just a fun and educational experience.”

Through the free adidas Running app, runners will try to match the distance covered by Pamoja, a pangolin whose nighttime ramblings sniffing for ants and a new mate don’t take her too far from her burrow on the Kenyan plains.

Those looking for more of a challenge can try to match the roamings of Tendrel Zangmo, a territorial female tiger on the hunt in the Bhutanese forests. Runners with an appetite for distance can meanwhile try to match the peregrinations of Adjany, one of a family of 15 elephants who migrate between Angola, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia.

The challenge is open between 25 September and 4 October, providing citizens with a platform to call for conservation action around the UN Biodiversity Summit. Taking place on 30 September, the Summit calls on Heads of State to put forward ambitious actions to address biodiversity loss.

Biodiversity supports all aspects of human health, providing clean air and water, food and medicine, resistance to disease, and climate change mitigation.

Yet IPBES found that 75% of the land-based environment and about 66% of the marine environment have been significantly altered by human activities, including deforestation and land use change for agriculture, pollution and unsustainable consumption – contributing to species’ extinction.

Scientists say we have a short window of time to reverse the current trajectory that is inflicting wholesale, human induced, environmental degradation on the planet and its web of life.

The WildforLife campaign, partnering with Run Wild, tackles the illegal trade in wildlife, which is one of the key drivers pushing species to the brink of extinction. The campaign aims to inform and inspire the public and decision makers to support greater species protection and biodiversity conservation.

Climate change is furthermore exacerbating threats to wildlife and livelihoods. UNEP’s Vanishing Treasures programme aims to help people and endangered species to co-exist. In Bhutan, for example, the programme aims to find solutions to mitigate human-tiger conflict, whether this results from increased pressures on tigers and their habitat, or on local farmers.

Restoring essential tiger habitats and supporting alternative livelihoods for farmers form part of an array of measures to support people and wildlife. 

Download the adidas Running app free of charge for iOS here and android here.
Download the raw video package for broadcast here and the shot list here.

An intimate look at the animals

Pamoja, a female pangolin living in Kenya, is ready for a change. Her pup has moved on and she’s ready for a ‘relationship’ again, but with an aardvark and porcupine sharing the same burrow, it has not been easy to attract a male pangolin. Pamoja goes out each day to find a new mate, of course eating ants and avoiding lions along the way – but she never wanders too far from her neighbourhood the Maasai Mara, which has few humans, whom she is suspicious of.

Tendrel Zangmo, a female tiger from Bhutan, is on the hunt again. It would be nice if her oldest son was around to help, but he’s getting ready to move on and so is nowhere to be found, until of course it’s time to eat. Long arduous treks through the forest result in some epic fails – no thanks to the langur that keeps sending out warning calls – but eventually she brings down her favorite, a sambar deer.

She’s careful about where she hunts so as not to trespass on the territory of another female, but her area is lush with vegetation after the monsoon and she encounters a lot of other animals every day – elephants, leopards, wild dog, otters, etc. Hunting is good now, but as the seasons change and food becomes more difficult to come by, she may need to resort once again to taking livestock from the villages nearby.

Adjany, female elephant who roams Angola, has seen a lot in her lifetime. A veteran survivor of mass poaching, she and her family are understandably wary of humans and stay very close to 3,000 other elephants for safety. But the best food and drink are down by the river, and that means more humans around, so they only go there at night, when the humans are asleep. It’s the dry season now, so it’s important to stay close to water and not travel too far from the river.

She’s part of a family of 15 elephants, 2 of which are her calves, mostly grown up now. While they wish they felt safer, everyone enjoys the company of all the other family herds. She’s heard that things are safer down south and that there are more than 100,000 elephants down there, but there’s a lot of space, food, and water up here, so they are staying put for now and waiting for better days.

About the UN Environment Programme

The UN Environment Programme is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

About adidas Runtastic 

Founded in 2009, Runtastic has become a leader in the digital health and fitness space, providing optimized tracking solutions for collecting, managing, and analyzing running and training data, as well as curated content. Since 2015, the Austrian company has been part of the adidas family and continues to develop fitness apps to pursue the companies’ core belief: Through sport, we have the power to change lives.

Internet of Elephants

Internet of Elephants was founded in 2017 in Nairobi by National Geographic Fellow Gautam Shah to create fun and meaningful connections between humans and wildlife. With a mission to make animals like Uuliin the snow leopard, Chili the gibbon, and Mtweturia the elephant as famous as Beyoncé, Neymar, and Jon Snow, Internet of Elephants wants to change the way wildlife conservation is supported today.

Space for Giants

Space for Giants is an international conservation charity that protects Africa’s remaining natural ecosystems and the mega-fauna they contain, whilst bringing major economic and social value to local communities and national governments. It is headquartered in Kenya, works in nine countries in Africa, and is registered as a charity in the UK and a 501c3 non-profit in the US.

Pangolin Project

The Pangolin Project is a non-profit conservation organisation based in Kenya, dedicated to pangolin conservation research and protection. They are dedicated to securing a future for African Pangolins in their natural landscapes. The organization does this by supporting protected area managers and communities to better understand the status of pangolin populations in their areas, and to develop strategies to protect them.

Bhutan Tiger Center

The Bhutan Tiger Center, under the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Royal Government of Bhutan, serves as a center for research, education, outreach, and policy as part of Bhutan’s commitment to being at the forefront of environmental and wildlife conservation. Their mission is to conduct world-class tiger research, to provide education and outreach resources to the people of Bhutan and tiger range countries, and to conserve tigers and their habitats for future generations.

*SOURCE: UN Environment. Go to ORIGINAL.

2020 Human Wrongs Watch

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