Madagascar's Makira Natural Park is a unique landscape on a unique island. And now it's protected by its first female ranger—22-year-old Rasoanambinina Augustinah, who hails from a nearby village called Mahafidina.
Growing up, Augustinah saw the forests near her village being degraded. In Makira, she has a chance to safeguard important wilderness before it's too late. Around 90% of Madagascar's biodiversity is found nowhere else in the world. A lot of it is found in Makira. The biggest park in Madagascar at about 40 times the size of Manhattan, Makira is home to 17 species of lemur (the highest count of any local protected area) and about half of the floral biodiversity of the entire island.
Augustinah recalls that people were scared of forest rangers when she was a child; she and others used to hide when the guards would pass the village. But now she sees the job very differently.
As part of the WCS team, she works closely with the people who live around Makira. As managers of the park, WCS collaborates closely with 73 community associations (comprising 48,000 people) who manage the surrounding area. They're involved in a range of conservation activities, including patrols, ecological monitoring, firebreak maintenance, and marking Makira's boundaries.
"It makes me proud," Augustinah says of her job, "and I am feeling like a (role) model."
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