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Meet Corporal Agnes Sopilal

Big Life Foundation

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Agnes is one of the first female Rangers employed by Big Life.

As a Ranger, Agnes plays an important role in helping the Big Life team protect over 1.6 million acres of wilderness in the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro ecosystem of East Africa.

Agnes and the incredible team of Big Life Rangers have devoted their lives to protecting this ecosystem and the wildlife that inhabits it. But, as a Ranger, Corporal Agnes’s job extends far beyond being ‘boots on the ground’. Agnes and her team also work alongside local communities to help address issues like human-wildlife conflict.
“As a member of this community, I believe it is very important for us to conserve wildlife.”
- Corporal Agnes Sopilal

Having grown up in a community within this ecosystem, Corporal Agnes is extremely passionate about community empowerment and the role local communities play in conserving wildlife and wilderness areas.

In regions like the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro ecosystem, human-wildlife conflict is a serious issue that often has deadly consequences for both wildlife and communities. Many people in the communities surrounding this ecosystem are subsistence farmers and rely on the crops they grow to feed and support their families throughout the year.

In a single evening, an elephant can destroy a year’s worth of crops and a predator can kill a farmer’s entire yield of livestock. This has devastating impacts on community members as they lose their entire source of livelihood and can no longer afford to provide for their families or send their children to school. When incidences like this take place, communities will often try to protect their farms and livestock from animals, which can lead to deadly conflict.

Big Life’s vision is to create a world in which conservation supports people and people support conservation. Adopting community-based strategies to managing human-wildlife conflict is critical to achieving this vision.

Rangers like Agnes are vital to ensuring these strategies are successful. From carrying out human-wildlife conflict investigations to educating communities on the importance of conservation and empowering them to be part of Big Life’s conservation strategies, Agnes has devoted her life to working alongside these communities.

In the past, being a ranger was very often seen as a job that was unfit for women because of the physical demands and long hours spent away from one’s family, but this is changing. Women like Agnes are leading the way for other women and girls who want to become Rangers, and are role models to women who want to fulfil their dreams, but face many challenges.

As one of the first female Rangers in this area, Agnes has overcome significant challenges and faced many obstacles to get to where she is today. Not only is her work with Big Life making a difference in terms of protecting our natural heritage, but she has also been able to help support her family by purchasing a house for her mom and sending her siblings to school.

Agnes has become a role model for other women and young girls around her as well, inspiring them to pursue their dreams despite the obstacles they may face.

If you want to help Rangers like Agnes and support the work Big Life is doing, click here. To learn more about human-wildlife conflict and work being done in this space, click here.

“There are no male or female Rangers. We are all Rangers.

- Corporal Agnes Sopilal

Photos by James Suter and Alex Oelofse.

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Learn more about how you can help support the work Big Life is doing here.

Meet Corporal Agnes Sopilal

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