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Meet Eunice Peneti, 29-year-old first woman ranger to drive in Amboseli National Park

In the Maasai culture it is the women that are responsible for the daily house hold chores. But that is slowly changing as the women are now embracing other career paths – environmental conservation in Amboseli National Park.

Women in Amboseli National Park area are involved in environmental conservation and have formed a group dubbed ‘Team Lioness’.

Eunice Peneti is a female ranger in the group and tells of how her love for wildlife since childhood has immensely contributed in disseminating of her duties.

Coming from a community where they live in close proximity to wild animals, she narrates a story of how, when she was young, their cows were eaten by a lion and the locals banded together to go and kill the animal. “Niliskia uchungu sana kuona iyo simba ikiuliwa,” she says.

She wondered why they had gone to the extent of killing the animal yet they live in the same community. That was when she began her journey of championing for wildlife conservation.

Eunice is not only a ranger but also the only lady-driver in the Amboseli ecosystem.

A lioness at Amboseli National Park. PHOTO / TV47.

Eunice: The Only Female Driver In Amboseli National Park

She became a driver by chance… One day, during their daily duties of conserving the Amboseli ecosystem, they came across a stuck wildebeest that was being eaten by wild dogs. The driver asked if anyone could drive the car as he shoots the animal to try and put it out of it’s misery. No one was able to help apart from her.

Though this incident spurred Eunice’s interest, she did not do anything about it at the time. Several months later, Eunice’s boss needed a vehicle moved from one of the seven OCWR bases to another. Once again, no one on duty was able to drive. This was the final push that Eunice needed!

According to International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), soon after, she informed her Director of her desire to learn how to drive. He advised her to write a letter articulating her interest and just two days later, she handed over her written request. 

“This was quickly approved and there began her journey to learn not just basic driving but also defensive driving, a key skill in the rugged Amboseli National Park terrain. that is how she became a driver.”

Maneuvering through terrains in the vast Amboseli area and conserving wildlife at the same time requires one to be tough and Eunice says she is up to the task.

She is always on hand to tackle any situation that arises like when livestock gets lost in the park

On the other side of the park, the ladies already covered a number of kilometers in their patrol of Risa area in the outskirts of the park, in a bid to ensure their is conservation of wild animals and nature by making sure the community and the animals live in harmony.

All Female Team Lioness Group

Just like Eunice, they are among the 16 female rangers in Team Lioness, an initiative of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), whose aim is to include women in the conservation of nature.

Amboseli National Park
All female Team Lioness rangers in action at the Amboseli National Park. PHOTO / TV47.

The women have overcome cultural stereotypes and stand tall to be counted in the society “We proved to the community that we can make it” says one. Their passion for wildlife motivates them and their main goal is to ensure wildlife coexists with human.

“I’m feeling so proud to be a female ranger,” says another.

The rangers feel encouraged by Eunice as she is always on hand to tackle any situation that arises in the park and the neighboring community.

Challenges at Amboseli National Park

Despite the positive side of Eunice’s story, challenges are not withstanding, she says men in the community assume that she is trying to compete with them. But the 29 year-old says her aim was to inspire women that they too can be rangers.

Amboseli National Park
Eunice in action at Amboseli National Park. PHOTO / TV47.

Eunice has a vision that through her work she will be able to set up a sports academy that will develop talents of young people in the society.

“Hakuna haiwezekani kwa mwanamke,” is her parting shot and encourages women not to let the men discourage and stands by ‘what a man can do, a woman can do better’.


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