Today marks the first ever World Female Ranger Day, a global awareness day aiming to celebrate female anti-poaching rangers across the world.
The global awareness day has been created by UK conservation charity, How Many Elephants (HME) with the aim of protecting important and endangered species as well as empowering and supporting incredible female anti-poaching teams.
The charity, founded by adventurer and conservationist Holly Budge, has worked closely with female anti-poaching teams in Africa including South Africa’s Black Mambas and the Akashinga in Zimbabwe. Many of these inspirational women have overcome abuse, extreme poverty and marginalisation and their important work in animal conservation and anti-poaching is changing attitudes towards female roles in local communities.
How Many Elephants collaborates with and supports female rangers on the front line in Africa, as well as working with direct action NGOs, conservationists, scientists, politicians, academics, creatives, businesses and change-makers who dare to say, 'I can make a difference in this world'.
To mark World Female Ranger Day, we sat down with the inspirational Holly Budge to talk How Many Elephants, the global awareness day and what we can all do...
Tell us a little bit about yourself and How Many Elephants...
I’m an adventurer, keynote speaker and Founder of UK registered charity, How Many Elephants. I founded How Many Elephants in 2013 to educate and inspire a global audience about the devastating impacts of the African Elephant ivory trade. The charity’s powerful travelling exhibition visualises 35,000 elephants to show the annual poaching rate in Africa. I’m using design to bridge the gap between scientific data and human connection, with a 100% non-gory approach. From summiting Everest to becoming the first woman to skydive Everest, I’m no stranger to adventure but patrolling on the front lines with multiple all-female ranger teams in Africa was a whole different beast. This was the inspiration behind the recent launch of World Female Ranger Day, which I have co-founded with Margot Dempsey, to highlight and celebrate the work of female wildlife rangers around the world.
World Female Ranger Day is launching today – can you tell us more about it...
Across the world, female rangers are working tirelessly to conserve wildlife and wild spaces. There are over 3500 female rangers across 18 countries in Africa alone and many more that we’ve discovered in other countries, including India, Venezuela and Australia. World Female Ranger Day is the first time that female wildlife rangers will be recognised collectively on a global online platform, to tell their stories, have access to peer support and share best practice, amplifying their conservation efforts. These women are bold, changing the game and paving the way for women to stand alongside men at the forefront of conservation, but they need allies.
How is the work of these anti-poaching teams changing the lives of women in these communities?
Many of the inspirational female rangers we are working with for World Female Ranger Day have overcome adversity, poverty and marginalisation. Becoming a ranger has empowered them and turned them into breadwinners and property owners and has given them access to higher education and much-needed healthcare. Their often-challenging work on the front line, defending wildlife and protecting wild spaces, is making a difference. They are role models inspiring women in their communities and beyond, that anything is possible. It is so important for girls and women to be able to identify with ‘real’ role models. I am a firm believer that great role models do not have to have elite qualities of physical or mental advantage.
What do you hope for the future of WFRD?
The World Female Ranger Day initiative is centred around the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, specifically No.5: Gender Equality, No.15: Life on Land, and No.17: Partnerships for the Goals.
It’s imperative that we form global partnerships within the field of conservation and beyond if we want to truly see positive change and create a lasting impact for wildlife, people and the planet. We hope that the World Female Ranger Day initiative is part of a long-standing global campaign to support female-led conservation efforts and increase gender diversity in anti-poaching ranger teams.
We are seeking out further long-term strategic partnerships with companies, associations and global citizens to expand the reach of the campaign to ultimately strengthen the support of female rangers globally.
How can our readers get involved with supporting WFRD?
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. You can join our 7-day ranger challenge to raise much-needed funds to support female rangers on the front-line of wildlife and resource protection in Africa. It is specially designed to be inclusive and brings together a community of people across the world, of all ages and from all walks of life, who want to walk to make a difference. We understand walking is not for everyone. There are definitely other ways you can get involved and support female rangers. You can share the platform with your friends and family to encourage them to participate, or you could donate to female anti-poaching rangers via www.worldfemalerangerday.org. You can also follow us on social media, where you can keep up to date with all things related to World Female Ranger Day and conservation, and you can share our content to raise awareness.
Visit howmanyelephants.org for more information on World Female Ranger Day.
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Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.
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