Meet The Rangers
Meet some of the incredible women who are working tirelessly to protect wildlife from extinction. As you’re reading this, these brave female rangers out there in the field, seizing snares, clearing out poachers’ camps, and patrolling vast wilderness areas. With Africa’s wildlife being decimated by poaching and habitat loss, the presence of wildlife rangers in wilderness areas is paramount.
Meet Nyaradzo Hoto (29)
Nyaradzo Hoto ranger from the Akashinga Anti-Poaching Unit in Zimbabwe. She is just 29 years old and doing one of the most dangerous yet important jobs on the planet right now.
Nyaradzo was forced to drop out of school and ended up in an abusive marriage. She joined Akashinga in 2017, thanks to her grit and tenacity. She is currently studying Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the Chinhoyi University of Technology, and her regular income has allowed her to purchase land and build a house. She is a strong role model for women in her community and around the world. She says, “women are the face of the future. They are the face of conservation because of their heart.” Photo: IAPF
Meet Leitah Mkhabela (28)
Leitah Mkhabela is a ranger from the Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit in South Africa. Aged just 28 years old, Leitah has an immense amount of responsibility. From sweeping life-threatening wildlife snares from wilderness areas to tracking down poachers in the bush, Leitah and her fellow rangers are working hard to create a danger-free zone for wild animals, enabling them to live freely and sustaining wildlife populations. Leitah and the Black Mambas need as much support as possible so that they can continue their crucial work.
Leitah says “we cannot do it by ourselves. We need more eyes, more people helping us. When I started as a Black Mamba, people were scared of the training we went through. People said this training is for men and we couldn’t do it because we are women. The hardest part was that even women were looking down on us. But people started to come around once the impact of the female rangers was clear. It has helped women in the community to see themselves differently. People have seen how we want to do this and so many women started to support us.” Photo: Black Mambas
Sithabile Munenge (33)
Sithabile Munenge (second from the left) is a Community Scout (Ranger) for National Park Rescue in Zimbabwe. She used to sell tomatoes on a dusty roadside, from dawn ‘til dusk, to make money to feed her children. Now, she is a respected wildlife scout with a huge amount of responsibility to protect the wildlife and wild spaces within Zimbabwe’s Chizarira National Park.
Sithabile says “Usually, men are the first preference to be employed by companies. But now I have the respect of my community, and I will be able to build my children’s future.”
Becoming a wildlife scout has not only strengthened the protection of wildlife and their natural habitats, but it has given Sithabile a stable income to support her family. She now has an extremely important career ahead of her. She is showing other women that they can secure the job they truly want, support themselves and their families financially, and contribute to the conservation of their natural heritage. Photo: National Park Rescue
“Having spent time on the front line with multiple all-female anti-poaching units in Africa, it’s evident why the female ranger movement is picking up such momentum. These women are proving to be highly successful as they ease local tension and strengthen relationships within their communities. World Female Ranger Day will celebrate these women but will also highlight the significant gender imbalance in environmental conservation. Through the World Female Ranger Day initiative, How Many Elephants aims to collate gender-specific data about female anti-poaching rangers. This will enable us to identify their needs, find tangible solutions and help build effective policies to contribute towards positive outcomes for female rangers and conservation as a whole.”
Holly Budge – Founder of How Many Elephants & Co-founder of World Female Ranger Day.