During Women’s History Month, the Shepherds of Wildlife Society highlight women who are or have pioneered the fight for indigenous rural communities’ most basic human rights to manage their renewable natural resources. In the coming weeks, we’ll highlight women researchers, leaders, and authors who dedicated themselves to this cause. Today, on March 8, International Women’s Day, the first woman we honor is Her Royal Highness Chieftainess Shikabeta of the Soli tribe.
Shikabeta led her tribe in a remote African community to break the stranglehold of absolute poverty by waging war on wildlife poaching. A staunch advocate against child brides in her village, Shikabeta sought help from a local safari operator. She collaborated to stabilize her community and connect her members with necessities like health care and education. Chieftainess Shikabeta believed that her community’s existence was intertwined with the wise management of local wildlife. By eliminating bushmeat poaching, the natural resources surrounding her community would be allowed to return from decades of neglect and poor management, and her tribe could flourish too.
Through her leadership, her tribe overcame these challenges, empowered women to develop their businesses, and helped to build their families a brighter future. Her Royal Highness Chieftainess Shikabeta lost her life in the pursuit of her work, but it is because of her efforts and her belief in a solution connected to the local wildlife that her tribe perseveres on. Her memory lives on in their success and livelihood. You can learn more about her work through the film Killing the Shepherd.