Going across the plains of Africa isn't something that's easily done. Even with Land Rovers and old Toyotas, the bush can become a nightmare for even the most rugged of vehicles, as the forest closes in on you fast. 

And that's just for folks who live there, vacation, and relax around the outskirts of the vast wilderness that encompasses large swathes of the continent. That doesn't include the rangers tasked with entering deeper into those confines to protect critically endangered animals from poachers. So when those off-roaders get stuck or can't go further, how do rangers go deeper?

Easy, they use e-bikes. Specifically, these units from bicycle manufacturer Specialized.

E-bikes make a ton of sense to me as backwoods go-betweens. They're light, easy to maneuver in tight spaces, can fit in the back of a pickup truck, can be charged using solar generators, and are relatively easy to fix if something does go wrong. It's why hunters have been using them to get in and out of the woods for the last few years, too. 

And Specialized's Turbo Vado 4.0 and Tero e-bikes fit that bill exactly, with rugged tires, front and rear suspension, and the company's 2.0 250W electric motor capable of 70Nm torque and a top speed of 28mph. The battery is also capable of providing power for around 90 miles in Eco mode.

There's also a headlight, taillight, and a rack to mount things to. 

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Spearheading this effort to equip African rangers with these e-bikes is an organization called the Wild Bike Foundation, led by Devlin and Katie Fogg. Speaking with PinkBike, "We got to know the reserve managers in many of the places that we travelled, and they were all facing the same challenges, mostly with poaching and environmental monitoring. They were hamstrung by a lack of resources, and we kept thinking, surely e-bikes could help?"

So they called Specialized and, through the brand's Soil Searching program, figured out how they could support the vision of Wild Bike Foundation and these all-important rangers' work.

"He shared his vision with me, and it was similar to mine, in how bikes can play a role in making the world a better place, to put it frankly," said Fanie Kok, Specialized's Global Sports Marketing Trail and Freeride Manager, adding, "Bikes are our connection to our natural environment. And with that things like conservation come into play, as well as climate change and social upliftment. After our initial discussions where our common visions clicked into place, the stoke was very high. When the Wild Bike Foundation was formalised, we got onto sourcing bikes and getting them into the field for testing."

Since then, e-bikes have been placed at a few different conservation areas, patroling fence lines, conservancies, and more, protecting the animals that make Africa what it is. It's wildly interesting work, especially considering how much the program makes sense in accessing formally inaccessible areas within game reserves, parks, or other conservation areas. 

There was an attempt to do such a thing with electric motorcycles, i.e. Cake's former wildlife program. But while that was cool, at least before Cake fell from grace, it makes way more sense to just do this with e-bikes. They're simpler, easier to use, and far cheaper to produce. 

Hopefully, it helps conserve the species we all associate Africa with. 

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