Being an African park ranger is typically a profession dominated by men, but an all-female team of wildlife rangers is now challenging both the stereotypes and the hunters who threaten endangered species.
The groundbreaking group is Africa’s first armed anti-poaching team made up entirely of women. They protect the animals of Phundundu Wildlife Park in Zimbabwe, watching over 115 square miles of habitat which had been prime trophy hunting ground, home to over 11,000 elephants.
The opportunity also offers local women a chance to overcome adversity and find a new calling.
Kelly Lyee Chigumbura, a young mother who lost custody of her child due to her inability to find work, has now regained that custody, along with a newfound confidence through her participation as a wildlife ranger—and her unit, known as Akashinga, which means “the brave ones” in English, is full of young women who have similar stories.
“When I manage to stop poachers, I feel accomplished,” Chigumbura told BBC. “I want to spend my whole life here on this job, arresting poachers and protecting animals.”
This feeling of accomplishment carries over into their social lives and the manner with which they approach challenges. A filmmaker documenting the rangers told BBC: “The change in them, the shift, is unbelievable … whereas before they were ashamed in a way, now they have a spirit to them. They’re walking on air.”
Even though some people have challenged the rationale behind facilitating an all-women group of rangers, the beneficial side effects of the project have already proven invaluable.
“With this model we have twice as many people to choose from for employing as rangers,” said the former Special Forces sniper who founded the unit. “I think women will change conservation forever.”
(WATCH the video below) – Photo by BBC
Lead the Charge Against Poachers — On Social Media…