Africa’s female wildlife scouts are taking charge of community conservation

Africa’s female wildlife scouts are taking charge of community conservation

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Ludovika Malemba knows the rugged hills and dusty tracks of LUMO Community Wildlife Sanctuary like the back of her hand. She has patrolled many kilometers as a wildlife scout of the group conservancy since its establishment in 2001. A native of the vast wildlife-rich landscape in Taita-Taveta connecting Kenya’s Tsavo conservation area and Mkomazi National Park in Tanzania, she found her calling close to home. “I really like the work of rangers,” says Malemba, “I was a game scout when I was in primary school — conservation is in my blood.”

LUMO gets its name from three ranches — the limited company Lualenyi plus the communally owned Mramba and Oza — that consolidated 416 sq. kilometers to be set aside for wildlife conservation. Malemba is part of a 14-strong squad of community scouts employed by the conservancy to safeguard wildlife and manage human-wildlife interaction. Though she is one of only three female wildlife scouts in LUMO, Malemba has transformed an early appreciation for protecting her homeland into a successful career.

Over the years, Malemba has also seen extended droughts and increased illegal grazing ravage the once-lush and vibrant landscape. “It is becoming like a desert because of pastoralists who always come to our place to graze during the dry season,” she laments. The conservancy protects a critical elephant migration corridor, and communities living outside the conservation area often contend with large mammals trampling crops and destroying homesteads.