Game rangers are wildlife custodians who take on enormous responsibilities in managing nature reserves, monitoring animal and plant populations and conserving and protecting the wildlife under their care. They often place their lives in danger in the line of duty, should they be confronted by poachers.
Today, for the first time ever, we celebrate World Female Ranger Day, to spotlight the brave women who dedicate their lives to protecting wildlife in an industry that is still very much viewed as male-dominant.
Initiated by NGO How Many Elephants, members of the public are invited to learn more and engage with these fearless women on their platform where female rangers from around the world can tell their stories, access peer support, offer and receive advice, and share their knowledge with each other.
In South Africa, The Kruger National Park recently appointed its first female head ranger. Cathy Dreyer, who was previously the Conservation Manager at Addo Elephant National Park, stepped into her new role in May. She says that being a ranger goes beyond wildlife, it is also largely about working with people. “This extends further than wildlife, it also extends to the people who dedicate their lives to protecting our national heritage. It is an incredible privilege to be the head ranger of KNP,” she told The Sowetan.
Another well-known anti-poaching unit, the Black Mambas work tirelessly, in harsh conditions, to protect South Africa’s wildlife. These patrol officers cover 50,000 hectares of ground within the Balule Nature Reserve that forms part of the Greater Kruger National Park area. They are the first all-female ranger team in South Africa, founded in 2013 by Transfrontier Africa NPC. Originally, the unit was created to protect the Olifants West Region of Balule. After the first year, their operations expanded to protect all boundaries of Balule. Since its inception the unit has added one male member to their team.
How can you get involved in celebrating and supporting female rangers via How Many Elephants?
Become a ranger for the week. Think you have what it takes to be a ranger? Step into the boots of a wildlife ranger and see what it’s like to patrol, every day, across vast distances. A ranger covers around 20km per day. How many can you do? Choose your challenge at a time that suits you. See each distance challenge here.
Send a message of support to the female rangers in Africa. Head on over the World Female Ranger Day website and share your support. Say why you admire them. Share an anecdote. Ask a question. Let’s get the dialogue going.
Celebrate the work of a female ranger and nominate them. Know someone working in the field? Share why they deserve to win the World Female Ranger Award. Closing date for nominations: 31st July 2021 | The award recipient will be announced: 25th August 2021.
Pictures: Black Mambas