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)

Israel Proposes Protecting Woolly Mammoth Ivory To Save Commingled Poached Elephant Ivory

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Woolly mammoths are long extinct for a minimum of 10,000 years in most global locations. Initially, many conservationists hoped that the discovery of long-frozen mammoth remains — including their tusks — would take pressure off the poaching of African elephants for their ivory.

It appears that those hopes are now dashed, with an acknowledement that the legal transport of mammoth ivory often moves with its cousin’s ivory as part of the shipment. As a result, Israel has proposed that mammoths become protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, (CITES) closing a loophole in which freshly-slaughtered tusks are transported as legal mammoth ivory. Such a decision would mark the first time an extinct species is listed as protected under Cities.

“They are often intermingled in shipment and retail displays, and are fashioned in a similar style. To the untrained eye it’s very difficult to distinguish between them,” said Iris Ho, senior specialist in wildlife programmes and policy at Humane Society International (HSI). “There is currently no international regulatory regime to track and monitor the commercial trade in mammoth ivory.”

A Move To Make Extinct Woolly Mammoths A Protected Species

Kitty Block, the president of HSI, said in The Guardian: “With ivory traffickers exploiting the long-extinct mammoth so they can further exploit imperilled elephants, nations must unite to end the poaching epidemic and ensure all ivory markets are closed. The time to act is now, before we lose them forever.”

The proposal to protect mammoth ivory needs the support of two-third of parties represented at the Cities conference taking place in Sri Lanka in May. The meeting is expected to be contentious without the ivory discussion because nine African countries are pushing to reclassify the elephants of Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe from Appendix II to I, offering maximum protection for the species.

However, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe seek to weaken existing restrictions on their ability to export existing ivory stockpiles, refusing to burn them as Kenya has done. Zambia is also seeking to downgrade its elephants from Appendix I to II, in order to legally export raw ivory.

LVMH Acquires Luxury Travel's Belmond Hotels | Will Bernard Arnault Help Save The Elephants

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AOC awoke Saturday morning to news that LVMH has set in motion the acquisition of Belmond Hotels. “Belmond, a fast-growing company based in London, offers its wealthy customers some of the most opulent travel experiences money can buy in settings like the Hotel Cipriani in Venice, the Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro and Orient Express trains connecting major European cities,” wrote The New York Times.

LVMH, the world’s largest luxury company based on revenues from brands like Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton and Fendi, offered to pay $25 a share for Belmond, a premium of more than 40 percent on the company’s closing price, in a deal valued at $2.6 billion.

The deal emphasized the limitless financial resources available to the world’s very rich customers. as well as the ongoing move away from buying ‘things’ and the growing appetite for ‘experiences’. This transition to the value of ‘experiences’ is pronounced among the entire younger generation, regardless of income, and dovetails well with their environmental concerns over accumulating more stuff.

Perhaps it was no coincidence that Friday’s Porter Edit had a sponsored post from Belmond Africa, based in South Africa and Botswana. The luxury hotel jumping off point gave us an opportunity to update the hot topic of the well-being of Botswana’s elephants, the largest elephant population in Africa and one that has been relatively stable until disputed reports of almost 90 dead elephants hit headlines in September.

One of the greatest conservation challenges in Africa is the cost of upgrading the continent’s parks and employing the resources to fight animal poaching. As many African leaders are quick to note, Europeans, Americans and other armchair conservationists are are more concerned about elephants and lions than African babies. AOC finds it difficult to dispute the assertion.

In October 2018, researchers put a price on protecting Africa’s wildlife at a minimum of $1.2 billion each year.

Our mind is always big picture at AOC — along with connecting dots — so of course the first question that came to mind after reading about the LVMH acquisition of Belmond Hotels was wondering how Bernard Arnault help help save the world’s elephants and other big game.

Conservationists argue that luxury hotels, capitalizing on the beauty and majesty of Africa’s wildlife, simply must become a source of revenue and creative policy making in keeping wildlife alive. LVMH may not have the in-house skill set to sponsor such an initiative, but Arnault’s teams certainly have the financial budget to acquire it.