Women in Conservation Being Bold for Change

Why the World Should Listen to the Youth as we Raise Awareness on World Wildlife Day
3rd March 2017
Why we should not sideline the politics that castigates conservation
14th March 2017

Women in Conservation Being Bold for Change

Share The Wild Side

Women are strong pillars in the society. International Women’s Day was celebrated yesterday (8th March 2017) and I have chosen to celebrate Women in the Conservation World in Kenya who have played a pivotal role in bringing change in conservation. This women have being able to make significant breakthroughs, overcome challenges, shown great leadership, upholding empowerment and are always ready to offer guidance.

I celebrate the women who have inspired me and many other young women to stand for what they believe in, having made great achievements in the conservation world.

If you can dare to dream, then you can do it.

  • Prof. Wangari Maathai (1940-2011)

Prof. Wangari was truly a phenomenal woman, well-educated, a true environmentalist, an activist and the first ever African woman to win a Nobel peace prize on sustainable development, peace and democracy in 2004, among many other honors. She faced off the government so many times in an effort to save our forests, recreational parks, democracy and fought for women’s rights. She is the founder of the Green Belt Movement and has authored four books: The Green Belt Movement; Unbowed: A Memoir; The Challenge for Africa; and Replenishing the Earth.

Prof. Wangari is an inspiration to many young people and her life has left a huge legacy to which many Environmental Conservationists admire.

You can make a lot of speeches, but the real thing is when you dig a hole, plant a tree, give it water and make it survive. That’s what makes the difference. – Prof. Wangari Maathai

Wangari Maathai: Image Credit

  • Dr. Paula Kahumbu

Paula Kahumbu is always filled with energy, passion and is a very tenacious woman. She seeks to preserve threatened wildlife and habitats. She is the Chief Executive Officer at WildlifeDirect and spearheaded the Hands Off Our Elephants campaign, launched in 2013 among many other accolades. She has authored a children’s book; Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship among many other scientific research papers as well as writing for local and international newspaper mediums.

Through WildlifeDirect she is able to use the media to drive behaviour change, empower communities to respond through a new anonymous wildlife crime hotline, oversee adoption of new legislation and enforcement, including the training of investigators and prosecutors to tackle poaching and illegal trade and reduce demand for ivory through international diplomatic relations driven by meetings, presentations, media and corporate partnerships.

Some of the world’s most critical conservation problems, and valuable solutions, go unnoticed. I want to shine a light on people whose efforts make a truly remarkable difference. – Dr. Paula Kahumbu

Paula Kahumbu: Image Credit

  • Prof. Judi Wakhungu

Judy is the Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources in the Government of Kenya.

A woman of many firsts, Prof Wakhungu was the first woman geologist in the Ministry of Energy and Regional Development, where her duties entailed exploring for geothermal energy in Kenya’s Rift Valley. She was also the first female petroleum geologist in the National Oil Corporation of Kenya and the first female faculty member in the Department of Geology at the University of Nairobi.

Her position as the cabinet secretary has faced many challenges but has also seen tremendous achievements. She encourages the youth to be more active in wildlife conservation as they have a huge part to play.

Judi Wakhungu: Image Credit

  • Katito Sayialel

Katito is the research assistant at Amboseli Trust for Elephants (ATE) and has served as the field assistant to many Ph.D. students, post-doctoral students, and visiting scientists on elephant studies, including social behavior, communication, genetics, leadership, cognition, growth, development, and human-elephant coexistence.

Katito assists in the monitoring of the Amboseli elephants including the regular collection of group sightings data, estrous and musth records, along with censuses of families and independent males, and the collection of identification pictures.

She knows and understands the behavior of each and every elephant in the Amboseli Ecosystem. Together with her sister Norah Njiriani they have been able to showcase the importance of elephants in our ecosystem and their plight for survival in a developing world mostly through advocacy, education, and women and youth empowerment.

Katito And Norah :Image Credits

  • Raabia Hawa

Raabia’s passion for wildlife and people living with wildlife is remarkable. She is a Kenya Wildlife Service Honorary Warden and founder of Walk with Rangers Initiative which runs under the Ulinzi Africa Foundation that was registered as East Africa’s first non-profit focusing on ranger welfare, empowerment, and facilitation so that they are better able to protect wildlife.

She speaks for the voiceless wildlife addressing issues on poaching and human-wildlife coexistence.

I respect living things, in all their little and large forms, and I respect Kenya. We should all do so, saving a species is not one man’s job, it is the duty of each and every single one of us, and we must get involved, even if we are only doing it for the sake of our own health, and that of our children to come. – Raabia Hawa

Raabia Hawa: Image Credits

  • Resson Kantai – Duff

Resson is passionate about community-based conservation and is concerned about wildlife crimes that have escalated over the years in Africa.  She has worked at Save The Elephants as the Head of Awareness, runs their internship program, and acts as a liaison person with the Kenya Elephant Forum. She is currently the Deputy Director at Ewaso Lions.

It will take concerned urbanites and civil society groups to pressure governments to keep wildlife conservation on the national agenda. And it will take everyone to build a collective sense of pride and ownership for our wildlife. – Resson Kantai Duff

Resson Kantai: Image Credit

  • Fleur Ng’weno

Fleur is a true naturalist and has been birdwatching for 45 years. She can identify most, if not all, bird species in East Africa not just by sight but by their sounds as well. She is also well conversant with tree and grass species, insects, reptiles, amphibians as well as mammalian species. She has a long involvement with the East Africa Natural History Society (Nature Kenya). Through EANHS she instigated Wednesday Morning birdwatching (which she enjoys) in or near Nairobi, introducing hundreds of Kenyans and visitors to the birdlife of Nairobi and providing a training ground for young scientists and nature guides.

With other bird enthusiasts from Kilifi County’s Dakacha Woodland, they discovered the breeding ground for one of the world’s rare species of birds, the Clarke’s Weaver. This bird is not just found in Kenya, but only exclusively in Kilifi County. In fact, it is only found either in Arabuko-Sokoke or Dakacha Woodlands.

Fleur Ngweno: Image Credit

  • Dame Daphne Sheldrick

For over 25 years Kenya-born Daphne Sheldrick lived and worked alongside her husband David, during which time they raised and successfully rehabilitated many wild species. Daphne Sheldrick’s involvement with wildlife has spanned a lifetime, and she is now a recognized international authority on the rearing of wild creatures and is the first person to have perfected the milk formula and necessary husbandry for infant milk-dependent Elephants and Rhinos.

Since the death of her husband, Daphne and her family have lived and worked in the Nairobi National Park, where they have built the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and its pioneering Orphans Project, into the global force for wildlife conservation that is today.

“animals are indeed more ancient, more complex and in many ways more sophisticated than us. They are more perfect because they remain within Nature’s fearful symmetry just as Nature intended. They should be respected and revered, but perhaps none more so than the elephant, the world’s most emotionally human land mammal.”
― Daphne Sheldrick

Daphne Sheldrick: Image Credit

Facebook Comments

Follow Nyika Silika on social media
Share The Wild Side
Vicki Wangui
Vicki Wangui
Vicki Wangui is a believer in all things beautiful. A believer in spreading information in regards to environmental awareness. A believer in sharing all that is good in Kenya's natural world. A believer in speaking truth with no boundaries. Do you have a story, photo, experience or message you need to share? Send your work to nyikasilika@gmail.com.


  1. Risper says:

    Kudos to all women who made conservation a success in one way or another. Am proud to be a woman .

  2. Hi Vicki… This is truly remarkable.. How you thought of honoring this women during international Women’s Day was really brilliant.

    Rabia Hawa posed next to elephant dung reminds me of the trending #IDressLikeAWoman social media campaign. pretty cool!

    Fleur Ng’weno is my hero! She has also inspired my birding.

    I’ve also met Resson Kantai at Chiromo when there was the #SaveTheElephant campaign. She is young and down to earth.

    You are right about Paula Kahumbu… her energy is infectious!

    Great piece!

  3. […] Related: Women in Conservation Being Bold for Change […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

error: Content is protected !!