In many regions of Zimbabwe, poaching is slowly becoming extinct! The Akashinga, a highly efficient female-only anti-poaching ranger team, is safeguarding wildlife and modernizing the fight against unlawful trophy hunting.
Since its founding in 2017 as part of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF), the Akashinga (whose Shona name means “The Brave Ones”) has helped reduce elephant poaching in Zimbabwe’s Lower Zambezi Valley by an astounding 80%.
The program is managed by Damien Mander. He prioritizes women and wildlife… Setting training and living standards while empowering women to manage the initiative, as Pulley explained. The subject is so compelling that we just accompanied the rangers on their daily patrols and documented what they did.
The Akashinga is composed of impoverished women, many of whom are domestic violence survivors. They patrol the 115-square-mile Phundundu Wildlife Area in Zimbabwe, which is controlled by the IAPF, and safeguard not only elephants but also rhinos and lions. Approximately 85,000 elephants currently reside in Zimbabwe.
The IAPF intends to hire 1,000 female rangers by 2025 to protect twenty natural parks. Not only does the Akashinga program benefit nature, but it also enables women to reconstruct their lives, feel empowered, and become community leaders.
Poachers pose a threat to these creatures, but so do the cyanide and snare traps they leave behind, which can severely damage or kill the local wildlife.
Damien Mander, a former Australian special forces soldier and prominent anti-poaching personality, formed the Akashinga. He prefers a ‘community buy-in’ approach over a full-scale armed assault against poachers. In other words, he believes that poaching will cease quietly if communities realize the economic benefits of conserving animals.