Virunga National Park is in the East Congo, and is a very dangerous place, for people and animals. It is one of the few places that gorillas and other endangered animals still remain in the wild. However, because of the terrain and the proximity from human habitations, it is an ideal location for not just poachers, but rebel military forces and other dangerous criminals looking for a place to hide. It is the oldest national park in the entire continent of Africa. Historically the job of Park Ranger to Virunga has been an only male job. Women were not allowed to be Park Rangers.
However, in 2014 four women passed the very difficult tests to become the first female Virunga National Park Rangers. Kisamya became the first female section commander, and she and her team of women protected the gorillas, tourists, and the Park from danger.
Since then ten more women have passed the exams, and successfullyy passed training with Belgian Commandos to learn battle field tactics and and extreme survival skills to use against groups from illegal loggers to anti-government groups.
The woman I painted represents these women, although she is caring for a rhino instead of a gorilla. She represents women who care about nature and animals and choose to take that out into the field, even though the field may be dangerous. The picture also shows Indigenous Women caring for and protecting animals that live in their area, and achieving more autonomy over their homes.
Another woman I thought of as I painted R is for Ranger, was Kinessa Johnson, a former US Army veteran, who after her time in Afghanistan joined a program called Empowered to Protect African Wildlife (VETPAW), which trains other people, like Kisamya. So Kinessa uses her skills and teaches Kisamya to protect the animals.
It just goes to show, when we work together we can accomplish great things!