Australian-based Businesswoman Has Donated US$700k To Akashinga
Judith Neilson, an Australian-based businesswoman who was born and raised in Zimbabwe, has donated US$700k to Akashinga Female Anti-poaching Unit.
Akashinga, “The Brave Ones,” is an exclusively female anti-poaching unit operating in the Zambezi Valley.
The grouping has reportedly managed to reduce cases of poaching by 80% in the Zambezi basin.
Judith Neilson said Akashinga’s strong focus on supporting marginalised women in rural areas, hand in hand with delivering infrastructure upgrades for healthcare, education, and clean water is vital for community-led conservation having an impact at scale. She said:
The women of Akashinga have proven this and I am excited to be supporting them as they expand their work in Africa.
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According to International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF), the grant will be used to recruit more women as wildlife rangers to defend the expanding wilderness portfolio under Akashinga’s mandate.
It will also be used to develop community-based infrastructure.
The group is made up of:
i). single mothers,
ii). abandoned wives,
iii). survivors of gender-based violence and
iv). school dropouts
They all undergo intensive ranger training.
Originally, the group had 16 members and these have made waves across Africa for their less confrontational approach to ending poaching.
Said IAPF in a statement:
IAPF announced it has been awarded a US$700,000 (A$1 million) grant from the Judith Neilson Foundation, which will be used to strengthen its ‘Akashinga – Nature Protected by Women’ programme in Zimbabwe.
The programme, which has been a catalyst for change across the region, focuses on social impact to achieve conservation at scale, with the empowerment of women central to its strategy.
The grant will be used to recruit additional women as wildlife rangers to defend the expanding wilderness portfolio under Akashinga’s mandate, including one of the largest remaining elephant populations on earth in Zimbabwe’s Zambezi Valley, and to develop community-based infrastructure. These projects are in partnership with local communities, where the women recruited for service reside.
Akashinga was formed by a former member of the Australian Army’s Special Operations unit Damien Mander who is also IAPF Chief Executive Officer (CEO), in 2009 after three years of service in Iraq.
Now with over 500 members, the programme has been expanded beyond Zimbabwe to protect other poaching-prone areas on the African continent.