Team Lioness, a team of eight young Maasai women is one of Kenya’s first all-female ranger units — and the direct result of Faye’s consultations with the Masaii women leaders. Officially announced on March 6, 2019, Team Lioness joins the Olgulului Community Wildlife Rangers (OCWR) who protect wildlife across six bases and one mobile unit in OOGR through IFAW’s tenBoma, an innovative wildlife security initiative. Team Lioness is operating in this precious natural corridor created by Kenya and Tanzania under the majesty of Kilimanjaro.
“In the larger Amboseli region, out of almost 300 wildlife rangers, to my knowledge there was only one woman,” Faye explained, in introducing Team Lioness. “The need was apparent.”
The women of team Lioness were selected based on their academic achievements and physical strength, as well as their demonstration of trustworthiness, discipline, and integrity. Typically, a Maasai girl leaves school around age 10 and have few opportunities to achieve a higher education.
“It’s very rare that Maasai women achieve a secondary education,” says Cuevas. “But all of team Lioness have the equivalent of a US high school education, and none of them have had a paying job before this. It’s breaking barriers.”
“As the first women joining the OCWR Rangers, each of the team Lioness recruits brings a new perspective and a different experience with wildlife than her male counterparts,” Faye continues. “They are important voices in protecting wildlife and reconnecting communities to the benefits of sharing land with the magnificent big cats and other wildlife that call OOGR home.”