Being a game ranger in one of the world’s most politically insecure areas is no easy job. With risks of armed attacks from rebel forces, add to that, the danger of attacks from wild animals and a volcano lurking below the surface, few people would expect a group of women to join a paramilitary conservation brigade and live in the jungle.
Despite the threatening conditions, a group of 14 women has become the first female rangers guarding wild animals, which include the endangered mountain gorillas of Virunga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to National Geographic.
The women have dedicated their lives guarding the animals in a job “considered the most dangerous job in wildlife: [And] Since 1996, more than 150 Virunga rangers have been killed in the line of duty,” National Geographic reported.
The women have made it through sheer hard work and determination. According to Emmanuel de Merode, the park’s director, the women showed that “they’re tough” considering the recruitment and training process is rigorous.
“Women had applied before to become Virunga rangers, but none had passed the rigorous selection process and subsequent training—until January 2014”, the website says.
Their daily duties include guarding visitors, escorting tourists, and patrolling in the park, wary of the dangers of wild animals, “armed animal poachers, illegal loggers, and anti-government rebels based inside the park,” National Geographic says.
The park is home to around 300 mountain gorillas, some 20,000 hippopotamuses also live in its rivers and the park is habitat to elephants and lions amongst other species.