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Meet the Akashinga Instructors leading Songo to success

We place high expectations on the IAPF Akashinga rangers. They are, after all, risking their lives everyday on the frontline to protect the world’s most vulnerable wildlife against illegal poaching and trafficking.

February 25, 2021

We choose only the best recruits to go on to train as rangers, and in order to ensure they receive everything they need to do the job, they must be trained by IAPF’s most elite instructors.

 Akashinga instructors strive to be the best


Our Akashinga instructors strive to be the best of the best in the world of wildlife conservation. They live and breathe to protect wildlife and our natural world. They know what’s at stake, they know what it takes to be a ranger and what needs to be done to ensure their work creates a positive impact on the world. They’ve also been trained using many key fundamentals of our LEAD Ranger Program.

The internationally certified LEAD Ranger program empowers the next generation of conservation leaders.

The LEAD Ranger program delivers tailored training, long-term support and mentoring to develop wildlife crime-enforcement leaders and instructors who remain based in the ecosystems they are protecting. In this joint initiative program (with The Thin Green Line Foundation and Ranger Campus), our goal is to train rangers that collectively protect 50 million acres around the globe.

IAPF’s Akashinga and LEAD Ranger Programs Come Full Circle To Protect Wildlife

It is a beautiful synergy that our Akashinga instructors receive specialised training, education, leadership skills and experience in alignment with many methodologies of the LEAD Ranger program.

In mid 2020, in preparation for our Akashinga expansion plans, IAPF commenced training 15 brand new instructors at our Phundundu headquarters, Zimbabwe. These trainees have now completed their training and will become the lead instructors that guide and mentor all new Akashinga recruits on their way to becoming elite rangers.

Three of these newly graduated instructors have been chosen to lead the new Songo recruits to success.

You may even recognise two of these instructors, Sergeant Petronella Chigumbura and Sergeant Julianna Murumbi (pictured below right and middle), as they were graduates of our first pilot Akashinga training program back in 2017. Both showed great promise, willingness to learn and a determination to evolve. They were subsequently sent to Kenya for 5 months to train and recently qualified from our LEAD Ranger program. In Songo, they are joined by a third instructor, Sergeant Bennet Matema (pictured left) who comes with an extensive background in anti-poaching and also underwent Akashinga instructor training in Phundundu earlier this year.

powerful combination of instructors



This powerful combination of instructors are a force to be reckoned with as they train and educate the new Songo recruits, passing on their unparalleled skills and knowledge, and equipping them to become elite rangers that will protect their sovereign lands.

In a recent interview, we sat down with Sergeants Petronella and Julianna, two of our Songo Instructors (and original Akashinga rangers), to find out exactly what the new recruits can expect. Check it out below.



The expansion of the Akashinga footprint into the Songo Conservancy is destined to succeed with the deployment of IAPF’s most elite instructors to train the next generation of recruits as our Akashinga and LEAD Ranger program feed into each other and come full circle. As we continue to expand our Akashinga footprint into lands where nature and wildlife needs the most help right now, the skills and experience these instructors will pass down will be vital.


Is it important to you?

In our next update, we’ll be giving you a front row seat as our instructors put the new recruits through their paces as the strongest rise above the rest.

These remarkable women show up each and every day to protect their animals, to protect their communities, to protect YOU and the future of humanity. They are the answer to ensuring future generations to come, in 50 to 100 years and beyond, still get to share in the joys of our natural world with an abundance of wildlife. Without IAPF’s Akashinga anti-poaching units, and many other conservation organisations on the ground, wildlife will simply cease to exist.

To help make this a reality, we need YOU to show up for them. Without the continued support of our community, IAPF cannot exist. As a charity with a big mission, we rely on the support and generosity of our donors that want to see that mission come to life. If our work is important to you, please join us and give what you can to help us secure more land, train more rangers and protect more wildlife.

Expanding our Akashinga footprint into the Zambezi Valley is our biggest and most ambitious project yet. But the outcome if we don't continue our expansion, is the imminent risk of irreversible loss of wildlife and the ecosystems they (and we) rely upon. There is too much at stake to stop now. Wildlife are in critical danger of being wiped out at expedited levels. Bowing out is not an option. We need rangers on the ground - permanently - and we need to continuously expand our footprint into new lands.


Nothing changes, if nothing changes.

Songo is an area that has seen minimal conservation resources available for almost two decades, giving poachers freedom to establish effective, harmful and illegal wildlife trafficking syndicates. It’s abandoned trophy-hunting land, in need of rehabilitation and protection. Creating an environment where wildlife return to areas of wilderness that previously were unsafe, is a crucial part of saving the natural world.

Songo is exciting. It’s a very intriguing part of Zimbabwe where the conservancy is intertwined with a number of small communities. Although a very remote part of Zimbabwe, Songo is bustling with the Zimbabwean Tonga people and Zambians who look to the water for their livelihoods. The wildlife are still shy because of the poaching history but it’s still a very wild place. And despite the human activity we are starting to see a trending increase of wildlife presence, especially elephant encounters.

Just last week, in the early hours of the morning, our patrol team discovered a small herd of elephants grazing in the floodplains whilst being serenaded by a pod of hippos, submerged in the lake in the foreground. This song has become known by our teams on the ground as the official soundtrack of Songo).


Through the process of IAPF working with the local communities in rehabilitating the land within the Songo Conservancy and Lake Kariba frontage, and cleaning it up, more and more wildlife are feeling safe to return. This is just the beginning of the impact your support is creating and with your continued support we are so excited to continue this journey of expansion and renewal.


Only you can help us double our impact.

As we expand Akashinga across the Zambezi Valley, we need your help to raise $1 million to fund the expansion of our Akashinga Footprint in the Songo Conservancy and the Lake Kariba Frontage. We are so close to reaching this goal.

From now until December 18th, every dollar that you give will be matched, dollar-for-dollar by a group of our wonderful major donors. Every dollar you give will be automatically doubled until December 18th.

We know that you believe in our mission as much as we do. That’s why there has never been a better time to show your support for wildlife, for the wilderness, and for the women and communities that need your support.