Marguerite Apa, an eco-guard in the Republic of Congo, has taken on a dangerous challenge.
This is 24-year-old Marguerite Apa. She works in the Republic of Congo's Nouabale-Ndoki National Park as an eco-guard.
It's a difficult role. Eco-guards in Ndoki spend 15 days at a time in the field, hiking untold miles through the thick brush. During that time, they are constantly on guard for both wildlife and poachers that could pose a threat.
"To do this job," Apa says, "you have to be really motivated and really want to do it."
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The thrill of spotting wildlife serves as her motivation. Good thing Ndoki is filled with it.
Established by the government in 1993, the park is situated at the heart of the Congo Basin. Today, it is managed by the Ndoki Foundation, a partnership between WCS and the Government of Congo, and houses 140,000 or so gorillas, 15,000 chimpanzees, and 45,000 elephants.
The only woman on her team, Apa, who descends from an often-marginalized indigenous group, decided she wanted to guard this amazing biodiversity two years ago, while serving as a cook. And she did it, she says, "even though it is generally considered to be a man's job."
"I wanted to see if I could do it," Apa says.
Now, she encourages other women follow.
"They need to be ready to walk long distances and they have to respect the leader of their group," she says. "It is difficult at the beginning, but this should not discourage them. You soon get into the rhythm of it and it gets easier."
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