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