***World Female Ranger Week***

World Female Ranger Week starts from Friday, the 23rd of June to Friday, the 30th of June 2023. Great Plains Female Rangers programme highlights that anyone can join the team and is vital due to the global wildlife numbers declining, there is a requirement for an increased workforce to protect it. Everyone at Great Plains is treated equally, of course men and women and this programme can be supported by donors who want to give training a boost.

At Great Plains the door is always open to any gender for these roles but more recently there has been such an interest and uptake by women who had previously thought that active conservation was a job unavailable to them. Since women were first introduced in these roles years ago, Great Plains have been warmed by the effectiveness, gratitude, and sheer determination of women who stand up to take care of conservation, protect nature, and who really ‘show up’. When an ad was placed for 24 positions for women rangers in Botswana and Zimbabwe a few years ago, we were swamped with over 200 applications in days.

The Female Ranger Programme trains and deploys female rangers in ecologically significant areas in Botswana (Okavango Delta) and will endeavour to do the same in Zimbabwe (Sapi Reserve, Zambezi National Park). These female rangers work to mitigate wildlife crime as well as data collecting and monitoring of natural resources in these critical areas.

Women living in rural communities surrounding these protected areas face limited schooling options, narrow career prospects and gender oppression. However, if provided with the education resources, and skill building opportunities, these local Botswana and soon Zimbabwean women can become both the preeminent ambassadors for conservation in their local communities and leaders to young girls.

This project, under the leadership of Dereck and Beverly Joubert, provides formal capacity building, training, mentoring and the employment of 24 female rangers in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, over the next two years. Great Plains’ Female Ranger Team will be responsible for natural resource monitoring across these areas.

Female Rangers have proven more capable of deescalating conflict, leading to more peaceable relationships with local populations. On average, female rangers have shown great commitment-loyal to protecting land and animals, akin to protecting their own children. As women tend to be more socially connected within their villages, female rangers may also receive more tips on poaching and illegal wildlife-orientated activities.

For women living in communities that border protected areas, becoming a wildlife monitor is a unique opportunity to develop a specialised skillset and creating some economic autonomy, contributing significantly to gender equity. Eventually Great Plains envision this project growing into a Wildlife and Environmental Field Skills based certificate from a training institute in Botswana and Zimbabwe for women who, otherwise, may never had had a chance at further education. Great Plains also aims to amplify female citizens by providing female rangers with a platform on which to share unique stories and educate others working in conservation, including Great Plains’ own team, who live apart from their cultural experience.