Conservation areas need boots on the ground. Without these frontline rangers, poachers have it all their own way. But we often do not need armed antipoaching forces, what we need are eyes and ears. We need teams who will show up and patrol, understand tracks and routes, know the landscape and surrounding communities intimately, and then to call in the armed teams that governments provide. And there is no reason at all that women should not be given equal opportunities to protect wildlife.
This was the inspiration behind the Female Ranger Units that Great Plains began to hire and train in 2022. These Rangers and Natural Resource Monitors will act as early detection forces against illegal wildlife crime. Preserving biodiversity for future generations is as much about nurturing for the future as it is about protecting for today, and women should be at the table for those important discussions. Playing a valued and viable role in taking care of protected areas allows women from communities bordering protected land to speak with authority and confidence and a sense of being valued on the solutions side of conservation.
We are assembling an exclusive team of Female Rangers/Natural Resource Monitors to usher in this new perspective. A central mission within the Great Plains Foundation is empowering women. Hiring female wildlife and natural resource monitors enhances them as individuals and empowers the communities they represent. Great Plains’ Female Ranger Units offer significant opportunities to shift gender stereotypes, empower vulnerable women, and establish strong female role models for young girls. The long-term conservation impact of this project is equally powerful; female rangers will ultimately enable the type of community buy-in necessary to preserve Africa’s most defining plant and animal species.