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A woman named elephant

9 August 2018

Cathrine Ndlovu
Cathrine Ndlovu
Cathrine Ndlovu is much tougher than she looks. As the only female field ranger in the eastern section of The Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area, she does everything the men do – and with no qualms.
“My husband is a field ranger and he showed me nature and I loved it. He is a ranger here too.” Cathrine particularly likes camping out and always volunteers to do so. “A sleeping bag is good for me,” she says, “and staying out for a week at a time is great. I want to protect wildlife and you need to be in the bush to do that.”


Challenges are Cathrine’s favourite part of the job. Not only does her surname mean elephant, but she has been charged by an elephant too. “The elephants here can be very aggressive. When you are charged your head works fast. I like that. I shot nine warning shots before the elephant stopped. But I would any day be killed by an elephant than a human. At least then you were doing something worthwhile at the time.”


Cathrine works with six men in her team and says: “It’s not difficult at all because they show me great respect. I can do all that the men do, and I appreciate being given the chance by my supervisor. My husband also makes it easy to do my job and looks after our two children if I am camping out. I have no fear in the bush. If you respect animals, they will respect you in return. I believe this.”


Original text by Keri Harvey


The Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area lies in a magnificent landscape with the Limpopo River flowing through it. Here cultural antiquity meets current-day conservation, and three countries collaborate to protect the ecosystem they share. It’s a place with a little of everything and a lot of uniqueness.

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