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)

Dem. Rep Raul Grijalva Expands Proposed Protections Under CECIL Animal Trophies Act

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US Rep. Raul Grijalva (Ariz.), the top House Democrat overseeing endangered species legislation on trophy hunting, has expanded Endangered Species Act protections with new requirements that legal animal imports must help conserve the animal’s species.

Grijalva named the legislation — not introduced for the first time — the Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large Animal Trophies Act, or CECIL Animal Trophies Act, after Cecil the African lion whose 2015 killing by American dentist and big-game hunter Walter Palmer caused an international uproar.

CECIL would prohibit elephant and lion trophy imports from Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Zambia, and it comes at a time when many Trump supporters who are big-game hunters are infuriated by delays in easing restrictions against killing the animals.

“The bottom line is they are afraid as shit to get off the fence,” Dwight Miloff, a frequent trophy hunter, told The Hill. “They know if they get off the fence the anti-hunting people will be up in arms, and if they don’t grant them the people who put in the money for the permit will be pissed off.”

MIloff is referring to trophy importation documents for elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia. Elephant permits from Tanzania and South Africa have been processed, but Rep. Grijalva’s expended legislation would cover Tanzania, where the situation is dire for elephants.

The Trump administration’s intention to relax restrictions on big-game hunting met massive public outcries in November 2017, causing Trump to issue a Tweet a few days later: “Put big game trophy decision on hold until such time as I review all conservation facts. Under study for years. Will update soon with Secretary Zinke. Thank you!”

Since March 2018, each request to import a trophy elephant has been considered on a “case-by-case” basis.

Grijalva’s bill would also make trophy importers pay all the costs of the federal import review program, terminate the Trump administration’s International Wildlife Conservation Council and mandate that the Government Accountability Office examine whether trophy hunting actually helps conservation.

In the larger US population, there is massive support for restrictions on trophy hunting among all political parties.