WATCH | This radio host turned conservationist is amplifying protection for Kenya’s rangers
Journalists are touted as watchdogs of society. But prime-time radio host turned conservationist Raabia Hawa has taken the role a step further.
While working in broadcasting, Hawa discovered the plight of wildlife in Kenya. Elephants were being poached at an alarming rate, yet there was a lack of public awareness about the dangers facing the species and the rangers defending them.
“When I had my encounters with the poaching situation, I just felt like we're in the dark about it,” she says.
This inspired her to establish the Ulinzi Africa Foundation (UAF) in 2014, the first initiative in the East African region committed to amplifying safety for rangers.
One night, Hawa came across an elephant who was shot 60 times. Rangers put their lives at risk every day safeguarding the endangered species, and they too need protection.
“By 2016, I had lost six friends that I had worked with on the field to poachers' bullets,” Hawa says.
She set up the global campaign Walk With Rangers, a 500-kilometre trek across Tanzania and Kenya to raise funds to support them.
“I think that rangers are the definition of bravery,” Hawa says.
The UAF specialises in providing first aid training and trauma kits to rangers, while equipping them to survey the field for potential dangers.
“You go through what's called compassion fatigue when you're constantly facing physical exertion, mental exertion,” Hawa explains.
“On top of that, you're just emotionally drained because you're viewing these scenes that are so heartbreaking and so harrowing.” Gruelling as the task is, Hawa prevails in ensuring rangers’ welfare. “We are custodians of forests, and flora and fauna that live within those forests for the purpose of future generations,” she says.
Hawa’s groundbreaking work and dedication earned her the title of honorary warden by the Kenya Wildlife Service.
“We've really seen a lot of changes since the foundation has been active in this area,” she says. “That also contributes to me just keeping the fight going.”
You can donate to the efforts of Ulinzi Africa Foundation here.
Footage and photos by Ulinzi Africa Foundation were used in the creation of this film.