Since 2014, the number of female park guards serving in Virunga National Park, located in war-ridden eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, has been gradually increasing. Today, 29 women serve in the ranks of this 731-strong force.
There has been a flurry of international media attention to the women who chose the ranger profession. News reporting generally zooms in on their heroic nature, the dangers and hardships they face, and the para-military ranger training they passed, which requires extreme physical fitness. So far, nobody has looked at how the presence of these women affects the functioning of the ranger force, and the relations between the park and the population living in its vicinity.