Part-time Kiwi launching World Female Ranger Day

Holly Budge with female park rangers from Africa. Image: As originally published by Scoop

Staff Reporter, Scoop | April 28, 2021

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An international elephant saving organisation led by a part-time Kiwi is launching the first world female ranger day to help stop the annual poaching and killing of 35,000 African elephants.

The charity How Many Elephants, will promote the World Female Ranger Day on June 23.

This ground-breaking global awareness day will celebrate and support female anti-poaching rangers, spotlighting Africa in its first year.

The event and How Many Elephants charity is run by Holly Budge who has lived in Franz Josef, Taupo and Christchurch.

She is the first woman to skydive Mount Everest and has raced 1000km across Mongolia on horseback in a world record time. She was as a skydiving camera flyer at Taupo Tandem Skydiving.

“Through World Female Ranger Day there is an opportunity for women rangers in New Zealand to become part of a global community of female rangers around the world,” Budge says.

“Covid-19 has taught us that we are all connected. Nothing exists in isolation. Whether we are talking about climate change, biodiversity loss or covid, it all relates to our fragile relationship with nature.

A recent report by the IPBES says there are 1.7 million zoonotic diseases in the world, half of which could spill over to humans. We all need to work together to help protect the protectors at the source to help mitigate against this.

“The female rangers are bold, changing the game and paving the way for women to stand alongside men at the forefront of conservation, but they need allies.

“June 23 will be the first time that female wildlife rangers will be recognised collectively on a global interactive and fundraising-focused platform, to tell their stories, have access to peer support, offer and receive advice, and share knowledge.

“As champions of wildlife conservation, as role models, as educators and as beacons of hope, these women are not only transforming attitudes towards the role of women in Africa and beyond but are also showing the capabilities and success of females in traditionally male roles.

“Less than 11% of the global wildlife ranger workforce is female and covid has meant national park rangers have lost their jobs or having significant salary cuts.

“The knock-on effect of this is huge, as one ranger alone may support up to 16 family members. Additionally, reduced vigilance in tourist hotspots has left wildlife even more vulnerable to poaching. The work of rangers is paramount right now.”

The African elephant numbers have shrunk during covid and are at an increased risk of extinction due to being poached for their ivory tusks and losing their natural habitats due to human activity.

The forest elephant is now listed as critically endangered and savanna elephants are listed as endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list of threatened species.