Damien Mander Creates Female 'Akashinga' Anti-Poaching Force In Zimbabwe's Phundundu Wildlife Park

These Zimbabwe women rangers chose the name ‘Akashinga’, which means ‘the Brave Ones’ in Shona. As far as Australian Damien Mander knows, Phundundu is the first nature reserve in the world to be managed and protected by an all-women ranger unit that he recruited and trained. (Credit: Rachel Nuwer)

These Zimbabwe women rangers chose the name ‘Akashinga’, which means ‘the Brave Ones’ in Shona. As far as Australian Damien Mander knows, Phundundu is the first nature reserve in the world to be managed and protected by an all-women ranger unit that he recruited and trained. (Credit: Rachel Nuwer)

How fascinating to pay a digital visit today to American Lt. Colonel and lawyer Faye Cuevas, checking on her progress as a co-leader of the biggest drive in Kenya to stop elephant poaching. The most recent news about Cuevas is the recruitment of eight young Maasi women known as Team Lioness, to join the Olgulului Community Wildlife Rangers, operating on the border between Kenya and Tanzania, in a precious open corrider for elephants. Faye says she knew of only one woman out of almost 300 wildlife rangers operating in Kenya. Now this highly influential leader in the anti-poaching fight is recommending that one out of every four new hires is female.

Faye Cuevas is not alone in recruiting women as wildlife rangers, responsible for patrolling and even shooting if necessary, ivory poachers. In September 2018, the BBC featured former Special Forces sniper, Australian Damien Mander, who says he found his ‘higher calling’ protecting wildlife in Africa. Knowing what key global military experts, including America’s own top military brass believes, Mander specifically focused on creating a female anti-poaching force in Zimbabwe’s Phundundu Wildlife Park nature reserve a 115 square mile former trophy hunting area that is part of a larger ecosystem home to some 11,000 elephants.

Though women rarely serve as rangers in Africa — a reality that Faye Cuevas also confronted in Kenya — Mander believes that putting the well-being of wildlife in their expertly trained hands could usher in a new way of carrying out conservation. In Mander’s vast experience, he believes that women rangers will create conservation practices that are far less violent, while empowers women and improving communities in the process.

“There’s a saying in Africa, ‘If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a nation’,” Mander says. “We’re seeing increasing evidence that empowering women is one of the greatest forces of change in the world today.”

Mander is hitting roadblocks, especially in his vision for 4,500 female rangers protecting wildlife across Africa. You can imagine the havoc he’s creating! Clearly this entire subject is one that requires much more reading on our part, so read on at the BBC about Mander’s women fighting force, while we assess this entire topic across the African continent.

Damien Mander oversees combat training in Zimbabwe; the team he leads is thought to be the world’s first all-women ranger unit protecting a nature reserve (Credit: Rachel Nuwer)

Damien Mander oversees combat training in Zimbabwe; the team he leads is thought to be the world’s first all-women ranger unit protecting a nature reserve (Credit: Rachel Nuwer)

Mixing Nelson Mandela's Spirit With Navajo + Peruvian Practices, Londolozi South Africa Opens Healing House Spa

Londolozi__2018_Londolozi-Game-Reserve_-Private-Granite-Suites-Main-area.jpg

Londolozi is one of South Africa’s original private game reserves, considered to be a pillar of global ecotourism. The word Londolozi comes from the Zulu word meaning ‘Protector Of All Living Things’. The Londolozi Game Reserve lived up to its name, in the reflections of Dave Varty’s 2013 blog post ‘Remembering Madiba’.

As the helicopter landed in the front of Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa and outstepped Nelson Mandela, I knew that this would be a defining moment in my life. Madiba had been sent by an old friend, Enos Mabuza, to spend a few quiet days relaxing at Londolozi after weeks of hectic media exposure following his release from prison earlier that year.

A rare photograph of Nelson Mandela arriving at Londolozi in 1991.

A rare photograph of Nelson Mandela arriving at Londolozi in 1991.

During these amazing days at Londolozi, Nelson Mandela saw Africa’s Big Five wildlife — lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo — for the first time in his life. The term ‘Africa’s Big Five’ was originally coined by big-game hunters, and refers to the five most difficult animals in Africa to hunt on foot. Today the term is more frequently used by safari operators offering well-heeled tourists glimpses of animal majesty.

It was at Londolozi that Mandela — or Madiba — as he was called with reverence in South Africa and beyond, came to understand the power of the eco tourism safari industry as a development tool. Eco tourism promised opportunity, careers, social upliftment, jobs and education for those who had been caught in the indefensible disaster of the apartheid trap. 

Londolozi is situated on the Sand River it the heart of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve within the Greater Kruger National Park. In 1993, Londolozi became the first game reserve in the world to be accorded Relais & Châteaux status.

This award came nearly 70 years after Londolozi founders Charles Boyd Varty and Frank Unger, came up with a plan to buy an almost inaccessible piece of land on the banks of the Sand River, camp under its 1,000-year-old ebony trees, and run hunting safaris there.  In 1969, Varty’s grandsons Dave and John, and Dave’s wife Shan took stewardship of Londolozi, ditching guns for cameras in an entrepreneurial launch of South Africa’s first photographic safaris.

This Could Just Be The Most Forward-Thinking Wellness Offering in Africa

Writing for CNTraveller, Francesca Syz takes us to Londolozi and the reopening of its most exclusive offering — the three-bedroom Private Granite Suites, positioned perfectly for watching elephants frolic from its new bar, and the 10-bedroom Varty Camp, which sits in the footprint of the family’s original mud rondavels. 

Londolozi has also opened its first spa, the Healing House, and London-based Syz describes it as potentially “the most forward-thinking wellness offering in Africa.” In a story that spans generations Dave and Shan Varty have been replaced by their children Bronwyn and Boyd, who are the newest visionaries behind Londolozi.

Trained by Oprah’s life coach Martha Beck, the duo is heavily impacted by Beck’s belief “that the senses are deadened by desk jobs and smartphones and that you need to learn to listen to your body, the ultimate navigational tool, to tap into your innate wisdom”. Beck struck a deep cord in the modern-day hearts of Bronwyn and Boyd.

Impacted by their studies with Navaho medicine men and Peruvian shamans, sound — long considered to an original healing fix — is at the center of their rituals. These practices render Londolozi’s new spa as a fusion experience of ancient global practices that now harness the energy of the African wilderness. Read on at CNTraveller.

Tiffany Commits To Sourcing Transparency For Diamonds .18 Carats and Larger

Tiffany transparency 11419.jpg

Tiffany & Co appears on AOC frequently, given their significant contributions to wildlife conservation, frequently working with superhuman Doutzen Kroes. Tiffany & Co understands that younger customers have different values from their parents and grandparents, when the topic is inclusivity and responding to our global climate crisis. These younger customers are also concerned about the sourcing of their products in an industry known for some heartless business practices around the world.

Tiffany transparency country of origin.jpg

The Fifth Avenue jeweler has now committed to full transparency around the origins and ultimately the journey from mining to a sale at Tiffany & Co of all of its diamonds (0.18 and larger.

The diamond’s provenance will be listed directly next to the stone in stores, and a unique serial number, invisible to the naked eye, will be laser-etched on the gem’s surface. By 2020, the jewelry house vows to share the entire craftsmanship journey of each diamond, including cutting and polishing workshops in addition to the mine’s location.

“Through transparency in sourcing and craftsmanship, we hope that people will further understand the important journey of a Tiffany diamond, and its positive impacts around the world,” said Anisa Kamadoli Costa, chief sustainability officer at Tiffany & Co.