Women Protecting Wildlife in Zimbabwe

Akashinga Rangers set off on a patrol to establish an overnight observation post at Phundundu, near Nyamakate, Zimbabwe (photo by Davina Jogi embedded from akashinga.org)

27 March 2024

Before Women’s History Month draws to a close here’s some recent women’s history in Zimbabwe.

Poaching is a persistent problem in southern Africa because the body parts of exotic wild animals find a lucrative market in the outside world. Without effective patrols it can even happen in a national park as for example 11 years ago, in 2013, when poachers poisoned 41 elephants at Hwange National Park by putting cyanide in their watering hole.

To stem the tide of animal deaths Australian born Damien Mander founded Akashinga in 2009 to train squads of men to protect wildlife in their home areas. The men were too easily corrupted and poaching continued.

In 2017 he recruited women, many of them single mothers or formerly abused. They named themselves Akashinga — The Brave Ones in the Shona language — and the program has been a great success, not only in terms of wildlife but within their communities.

This 2018 video from the BBC shows the first team of 16 rangers. Their full story is at BBC News: Meet the ‘Brave Ones’: The women saving Africa’s wildlife.

video embedded from BBC News on YouTube

Today Akashinga has a team of 500+ staff and 9.1 million acres under management in Zimbabwe, Botswana and Mozambique. They have reduced poaching by 80% and have seen an increase in wildlife of 399%.

Find out more at akashinga.org

p.s. The Akashinga organization was originally called the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF). They officially changed their name in 2023.

(photo at top embedded from akashinga.org; credits are in the captions)

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