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Time to celebrate world female rangers

Protecting endangered animals from the threat of poachers, facing prejudice, social stigma, and danger on an almost daily basis, is not deterring a global band of women from pursuing their passion. From Indonesia to Liberia to Scotland brave female wildlife rangers are at the forefront of conservation.

June 23 to 30 is World Female Ranger Week (WFRW), which spotlights the international community of women who make up just 11% of the ranger workforce in the male dominated conservation world.

The aim is to showcase the more than 5000 women who have overcome a range of challenges and prejudices and paved the way for others to follow in their footsteps. This includes women like Pera Pinem, the only female ranger in North Sumatra for three years, who protects elephants, orangutans, and tigers and actively works with the local communities to reduce conflict between wildlife and humans.

Pera has faced a huge amount of prejudice since becoming a ranger, as it was not deemed acceptable for women to work in a jungle, but her commitment has helped pave the way for others to follow in her footsteps.

Other rangers making a difference include Mariani ‘Bam’ Ramli, founder and president of the Gibbon Conservation Society in Malaysia.

After meeting a confiscated infant gibbon and finding others in need, she set up the organisation. She sold her possessions and moved to a secluded estate to create a home for them. Because she spoke out about gibbon ownership, she faced a huge backlash, but despite that, she has continued to fight for gibbons over the last decade and now runs two rehabilitation projects.

Grace Kotee from Liberia is a ranger at the East Nimba Nature Reserve and, having seen people killing and eating wildlife as a child, vowed to do something to protect the local forest resources. She too has faced prejudice and criticism as a woman working in what is considered to be a man’s world.

‘And these are just some of the stories,’ said Holly Budge, adventurer and conservationist who is the founder of WFRW and UK charity, How Many Elephants.‘There are many inspirational female wildlife rangers around the world doing invaluable work in the face of adversity, but making a huge difference to both their own lives and that of the wildlife around them.’

Holly, recently voted ‘Woman of the Year in Non Profit’, is drawing attention to the shocking plight of elephants because of illegal ivory poaching through How Many Elephants.

For the past decade, she has worked with female rangers across Africa and used the week to amplify their voices and share their stories. So far, she and her team have identified more than 5500 rangers working worldwide in countries as diverse as Kenya, South Africa, Guyana, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, Tasmania and Scotland.

This year’s focus is considered even more important because of the continued aftereffects caused by the pandemic, which hit tourism hard in these countries and often led to less funding for conservation projects.

‘The lack of tourists visiting national parks led to many rangers losing their jobs or having significant salary cuts,’ said Holly. ‘The knock on effect of this is huge. For example, one African ranger may support 16 people on their salary.’

Holly hopes that highlighting these brave women will inspire others and help raise funds throughout the week and beyond.


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