-According to the AWF Country Director, this initiative demonstrates the necessity of engaging women in developmental areas such as conservation.
Masvingo, Zimbabwe (CZ) – The ground temperature was 3 degrees Celsius, and it was cloudy and drizzly, but the thrill of finishing a monthlong basic ranger training at the ZimParks run Zimbabwe Institute of Wildlife Conservation (ZIWC), also known as Mushandike in Masvingo, revealed the persistence instilled in the 28 graduates.
It was a cold day, but the young men and women spiced up the atmosphere with paramilitary marches, exercises, and a parade that convinced the audience that the addition of females in ranger training is a game changer.
The young (13 females) and (15 men) who graduated on July 21 were drawn from Mbire and Muzarabani, 577 km away, to train through the African Wildlife Foundation’s (AWF) 10-year conservation strategy, which strives to conserve wildlife and reduce poaching and trafficking in Zimbabwe.
The training was made possible courtesy of funding support from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) under the ongoing ‘UTARIRI: Integrated and Adoptive Biodiversity, Climate, and Livelihoods Projects in the Zambezi Valley, 2022-2025.’
Olivia Mufute, Country Director of the African Wildlife Foundation, applauded the graduates for the resilience they are showing.
– the basic training
The Senior Lecturer at the ZIWC, Blessing Chirombe, revealed that the basic course included theory and practical modules.
These modules equipped the young rangers with skills in ecological monitoring, ranger-based data collection, conducting problem animal management, human rights, Human-wildlife conflict, anti-poaching, field tracking, and many more.
During his address, ZIWC Principal Professor Never Muboko commended the graduates for showing discipline and agility, saying this will help them effectively deal with cases of human-wildlife conflict in their area.
The women’s empowerment drive by AWF is reaping good results, as evidenced by the graduation results.
Of the four students who received awards, three were female, and the overall best student was 19-year-old Missy Muchadei, from Muzarabani.
Missy hails from a family of four and passed four subjects at Ordinary Level. She plans to continue with the conservation work while supplementing Mathematics so that she can advance her education.
The Most Disciplined student was Beatrice Kapota, aged 21, and a mother or two. She revealed that she dropped out of school while in Form 3 and married early.
She is planning to continue with her education and further pursue her ranger career so that she can take care of her young children.
AWF is working to increase the number of women rangers in a sector that has for ages been dominated by men.
In the past, it was difficult for women to access ranger jobs, which is still seen as a primarily male role.
Women have also traditionally been seen as weak and incapable, and therefore not given opportunities or respect when they have attempted to work.
This is the experience of many of the women, including rangers.