World Female Ranger Week was launched by conservation charity How Many Elephants (HME) to celebrate and support female wildlife rangers across the globe.


"They're bold, changing the game and paving the way for women to stand alongside men at the forefront of conservation, but they need allies," says Holly Budge, HME founder, who has patrolled extensively with female ranger teams across Africa.

"As champions of wildlife conservation, as role models, as educators and as beacons of hope, female rangers are not only transforming attitudes towards the role of women around the world, but are also showing the capabilities and success of females in traditionally male roles. However, less than 11 per cent of the global wildlife ranger workforce is female."

The role of a ranger has never been so paramount. Over the past two years, the pandemic has crippled tourism and funding for conservation projects globally. Many rangers have lost their jobs or had to take significant salary cuts, and reduced vigilance in tourist hotspots has also left wildlife more vulnerable to poaching.

A ranger from the Akashinga applies camouflage face paint. © International Anti Poaching Foundation
A ranger from the Akashinga, an all-female anti-poaching unit in Zimbabwe, applies camouflage face paint. © International Anti Poaching Foundation

Day and night, female rangers patrol wilderness areas, monitoring wildlife, seizing snares, working with communities and in some cases, arresting poachers. Many have overcome adversity, poverty and marginalisation - becoming a ranger has empowered them, turned them into breadwinners and property owners, and has allowed them access to higher education and much-needed healthcare.

Holly and her team have identified some 4,500 female rangers in 18 African countries so far, and more than 5,500 female rangers around the world, from Sri Lanka to Scotland. They will continue to collate data about female rangers globally, enabling them to identify their needs, find tangible solutions and help build effective policies to contribute towards positive outcomes.

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Find out more about World Female Ranger Week at: and


Main image: rangers from the Black Mambas, South Africa, on patrol © Julia Gunther


Sarah McPhersonFeatures editor, BBC Wildlife Magazine