Ega, known by her nickname, was one of 15 women selected to participate in the United Nations Development Program-supported initiative Perempuan Inspiratif Mitra Polhut (Inspiring Women to Partner with Forest Rangers), which aims to protect Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park and provide opportunities to nearby communities.

“I have always been passionate about nature and nature conservation. I grew up in a village surrounded by forest. Both my grandfathers inspired me by sharing their local and traditional wisdom and encouraged me to get to know the forest and plant trees. They talked about the power of nature and explained that the language of nature is the oldest language on earth, and therefore we must listen to it.

It’s a bit mysterious. For example, according to stories, if you see many ants coming out of the ground, it means that it will rain very soon.

The message from my grandfathers is that nature’s energy and language should be appreciated and respected.

“My life changed”

Since high school I have been active in the environmental movement, and I studied international relations at university to keep myself open to what is happening in the world. I have always wanted to return to my hometown after graduation.

My life changed in November 2020 when I joined the initiative, the first of its kind in Indonesia.

We received basic police training and training in communication, negotiation and entrepreneurship.

We also learned how to empower local villagers to create alternative sustainable livelihoods and to work more closely with the National Park Authority.

I learned what rangers do and became more passionate about the work. Now I am really proud to serve the society.

The community guards help protect endangered species. There are mammals, reptiles and more than 100 bird species that make their home in the park.

In collaboration with national park rangers, we also play a role in eradicating crime and combating the illegal fauna and flora market and illegal wildlife trade.

I work at least 10 days a month, but in reality, due to the nature of the work, it takes longer to invest in the form of a commitment or “buy in” from the community. Part of that is building connections.

“Conservation Lady”

It feels very satisfying to know that our efforts can change someone’s life for the better. Like when we can make it easier for community groups to get certifications, giving them access to sustainable markets for their products. I believe there is so much more I can do for nature, but also to improve myself and my community for better opportunities.

I feel encouraged to talk about conservation and get more involved in my community. I am motivated to talk to people. It’s funny, but people in my village now think of me not only as Ega but as the “conservation lady”, or the person you need to contact when you discover suspected illegal wildlife trade.

I feel proud of it.

Cross generation inspiration

Sharing wildlife knowledge to the younger generation makes me feel useful. The most important and meaningful part of my job is to share awareness about conservation and the importance of wildlife.

If we talk about trees, we are not only talking about the leaf, but also the roots.

If they are well prepared from an early age, they will carry knowledge about nature conservation and wildlife into the future.

“Staying silent won’t change anything”

Our earth is aging and overpopulated. Yelling loudly may not help, but being silent won’t change anything either. Women can raise our voices more and make the earth a better place.

I have a big message for young women: be brave. Don’t be afraid to start working for conservation. You have to encourage yourself to take the first steps because the first step is very important. It’s not as scary as you think.”

Empowering rangers

  • Although women play an important role in managing natural resources and are disproportionately affected by biodiversity loss, they are often excluded from decision-making and leadership opportunities, so the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) launched a series of innovative projects in the Asia-Pacific region to change that.
  • Women rangers also work to protect land and strengthen their communities in China, India, Vietnam and other countries.
  • In line with 2030 Agenda for sustainable developmentthese conservation projects help fight climate change, empower women and help them transform their communities.