Akashinga: The Brave Ones

Akashinga The Brave Ones on National Geographic on StarSat o1 - web

Akashinga: The Brave Ones

Africa has a big poaching problem: Elephants, along with many other species that call the plains home, are nearing extinction levels. Damien Mander, a former Australian special forces soldier, took it upon himself to address this issue in Zimbabwe by founding the Akashinga group. The Akashinga is a group of armed women, each of whom has lived through marginalisation and abuse, who patrol the wildlife sanctuaries in Zimbabwe to protect endangered species from poachers.

There are many reasons, ranging from socio-economic desperation to pure criminal greed, why poaching has been such a successful criminal enterprise within the borders of Africa. One of the main reasons that it’s been allowed to go on this long is the indifference of the local populace. One can’t blame them, however, for why should one care about the fate of the elephants when the certainty of one’s next meal is in question.

That is why the Akashinga isn’t simply an all-female paramilitary group. They are well aware that fighting poachers using only their guns will only lead to endless bloodshed. Instead, they focus a lot of their efforts on community buy-in: educating the locals into understanding that the wellbeing of the local wildlife directly contributes to their financial wellbeing. When a community is invested in protecting their wildlife they are far more likely to report criminals and far less likely to turn a blind eye. They might even pick up arms to protect the animals from the poachers.

Akashinga: The Brave Ones aims to celebrate the good work being done for Zimbabwe’s conservation efforts as well as shine a light on the Akashina’s unorthodox and effective methods.

Wednesday at 8:40 PM on National Geographic (ch 220) on World Elephant Day: 12 August