Every March, our country celebrates Women’s History month, commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in history, also encompassing International Women’s Day on March 8th.
This month we celebrate just a few of the many extraordinary women throughout Africa, whom we are lucky enough to work with, as we create magical safari itineraries for our clients.
But first up is our own wonderful team of women here at African Portfolio and our team on the ground in Southern Africa. Led by Diane Ebzery Lobel, who, after a vacation to Zimbabwe, founded African Portfolio in 1993, motivated by a commitment to help others realize their dreams of traveling to Africa. Diane’s team comprises a dynamic group of women who share a love of Africa, its people and wildlife, and a passion for designing unique, once in a lifetime experiences! Throughout Africa, they are assisted by dedicated teams of women on the ground, offering 24 hour support.
Women in Wildlife Conservation
- Sheldrick Wildlife Trust – Established more than 40 years ago by its founder, Dame Daphne Sheldrick, the Trust is helmed by her daughter, Angela Sheldrick, who designed the successful digital fostering program – the Orphan Project. With its dedicated team of keepers, they continue to rescue and rehabilitate Kenya’s young elephants and other wildlife, with the ultimate goal of reintegrating them back into the wild.
- Wild is Life – As Harare becomes a more frequent gateway for visitors to Zimbabwe, with airlines such as Emirates, Ethiopian, Kenya Airways and Qatar offering several flights a week, many clients now have an opportunity to spend a day in the city and enjoy a visit to Wild is Life, a sanctuary founded by Roxy Danckwerts, offering a safe haven to injured, orphan and traumatized wild animals. Whilst elephants make up most of the resident numbers, the organization has helped 18 different species over the years including the critically endangered pangolin.
The safari guiding industry has traditionally been a male dominated, though many of the wonderful properties we work with are bringing woman up the ranks, so that they can also share their passion for the natural world with our clients
- Chobe Angels – Leading the charge is Chobe Game Lodge and their team of “Chobe Angels” – an all female team of guides, who lead clients through the diversity of Chobe National Park on game drives and boat excursions along the Chobe River.
- African Bush Camps Female Guides Training Program – In November 2021, African Bush Camps launched a female safari guide project targeted at creating job opportunities for local women as safari guides. This project aims to develop 25 female safari guides by 2025 through skills training, mentorship, job shadowing, and rotations at ABC.
- Akashinga – Founded in 2017 in Zimbabwe, the female rangers of Akashinga (meaning “the Brave Ones” in the local Shona dialect) have helped in the reduction of elephant poaching in the Lower and Middle Zambezi Valley. The project has now expanded to other parks with the goal of expanding to 1000 rangers in 20 parks by 2025. We celebrated these fearless warrior women on World Female Ranger Day.
- The Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit – Founded in 2013 in South Africa, this all female team of 23 rangers and 7 environmental monitors are dedicated to protecting rhinos in the Balule Nature Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger area in South Africa. With a passion for wildlife and rhino conservation, these women serve as role models in their communities as well.
Women Winemakers of South Africa
South Africa’s phenomenal wines are famous around the world and a visit to the Winelands is a highlight of any South African itinerary. The lauded winemakers include some incredible women – Margaux Nel, Boplaas Family Vineyards; Jamie Williams, Nederburg wines; Andrea Mullineux, Mullineux Family Wines and Ntsiki Biyela of Aslina Wines, which she founded in 2007. As South Africa’s first black woman winemaker, Nsiki Biyela has been at the forefront of increasing diversity in the South African wine industry.
- Mulberry Mongoose – Founded by Kate Wilson and her creative team of women, Mulberry Mongoose is a workshop in the Zambia bush where craftswomen make jewelry by hand using natural materials, such as wire snares collected by anti-poaching units in the South Luangwa Valley. Clients on bush walks in the national park, who have found snares ensure they are delivered to the ladies at Mulberry Mongoose, to turn into something much prettier.
- Katundu – Founded in 2006, with the goal of empowering women through artisanal training and ethical employment, Katundu is a workshop based on Likoma Island in Malawi. You can find their signature hand beaded textiles, chandeliers, wall art, rugs and baskets all made with sustainable materials adorning many of our favorite properties.