Four months after the coronavirus disease lockdown quarantined women on the front-line of saving wildlife in Kenya from their families, the rangers of Team Lioness are beginning to return home to celebrate poignant family reunions.
“It is quite emotional to know that as the world celebrates World Ranger Day, thousands of men and women wildlife rangers around the world have been restricted to the bush, or the forest, desert or jungle, unable to spend any time off with their families,” said James Isiche, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Regional Director East Africa.
These include IFAW’s Team Lioness of eight remarkable women aged 20-28 years who work as Community Wildlife Rangers (CWR) in the Olgulului/Olarashi Group Ranch (OOGR) in Kenya’s Amboseli ecosystem.
They are the first ever cadre of female rangers in the highly patriarchal Maasai community.
Last week Ruth Sikeita and Purity Lakara were the first of their group to return home to their villages for touching celebrations with their families and plenty of cuddles from their children.
“My heart is full as I am seeing my son and daughter for the first time in four months,” said Sikeita.
Lakara, aged 23, who was also looking forward to getting back to her village of Meshanani said she will be excited to see her two-year old daughter.
The two rangers returned to their bases on Saturday. Other members of Team Lioness will return two-at-a-time to their families over the coming few weeks.
“Every day rangers put themselves at risk to save wildlife. Patrolling the bush for weeks at a time, they always look forward to that much-needed break to connect with family and friends at home,” Isiche said.
He said for most rangers Covid-19 ended that. “Considered a critical service by the leaders of the OOGR, rangers have been obliged to remain on duty for months at a time, not knowing when to expect a few days at home.
The work of Team Lioness and the rest of a 76-strong group of rangers in Group Ranch is supported by IFAW.