Kenya’s team of all-women park rangers breaks barriers, saves wildlife

A team of all-female rangers is making waves at Kenya’s Amboseli National Park.

They call themselves “Team Lioness” and the name is fitting. The unit, formed in 2017 by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, is staving off poachers. The all-women group is the first of its kind — but breaking from patriarchal traditions never comes easy.

“The perception of the community, of me being a ranger, a woman ranger, first they believed that I would not make it because they think I’m weak,” Purity Amselet, a 24-year-old ranger, told the Associated Press. “Our work as women was just to give birth, do house chores, take care of the babies, fetch firewood, milking the cows.”

Amselet and the rangers are thwarting bushmeat hunters who threaten wildlife. Unfortunately, hunting has increased due to joblessness caused by the pandemic.

“People are doing bushmeat hunting for food, since there are no tourists who they used to sell beads to them to meet their family needs. So, they depend on bushmeat,” Amselet said.

Team Lioness, according to Commander Patrick Papatiti, has often been more successful than their male counterparts. The women have expertly gathered information and settled disputes which have resulted in less violent outcomes.

“We’ve not had confrontations that leads to fighting,” Papatiti told the Associated Press. “They will plead, they will talk, they will ask for you to stop. Compared to men who sometimes put more fuel into the fire by fighting, by trying to forcefully stop people not to do it. So, engaging the community, they have done the best.”

Amselet hopes that Team Lioness’ model will be replicated in national parks around the world.

“It would be much better if we have more women rangers working around the world,” she said. “Because it will show women empowerment amongst the women who have not been recognized from their local communities. And it will also show that there is gender equality.”

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