The vast and diverse African lands of the Amboseli National Park is now home to “Team Lioness,” the first Kenyan all-women ranger unit. Their mission? To protect the wildlife that roams the flatlands under the shade of Mount Kilimanjaro from poachers that present a threat to the animals’ survival.
The area is known for its free-roaming elephants, animals that are often hunted by poachers for their ivory tusks, especially during these times of financial uncertainty. The covid crisis has prevented many tourists from travelling into the area, which has created further poverty among the local community.
Why is Team Lioness so special? The female rangers belong to the Maasai tribe, a patriarchal community that excludes women from leadership and decision-making. In other words, a community that didn’t believe women were capable of performing a role that was reserved for the males of the tribe.
Eunice Mantel, one of the rangers, commented “You know, before, us females in our community, we were seen as a weak point. In our society, we are not recognised, our worth is just to give birth, and take care of children. But now we have been recognised.”
“We are working in the same field as men….our families depend on us. Before they used to depend on men solely. Now…I can use my salary to educate my younger brother…to give my mother good health and raise the standard of my family. That feeling of being recognised drives me to be a female ranger.”
Now operating on the frontline of the war against poaching, the creation of Team Lioness has shifted the balance of gender equality in a community that has long believed women weren’t capable of performing such a role, due to the dangerous nature of their work and the harsh climate.
I guess Team Lioness has smashed the status quo, as they take to the wilderness, risking life and limb to protect vulnerable wildlife in the area.
(c) Samantha Wilson 2020. All Rights Reserved.
Source – The Guardian