Akashinga, Formerly the International Anti-Poaching Foundation, Announces Name Change Reflecting its Multifaceted, Community-Centred Approach to Conservation
Akashinga’s rebrand parallels its growth to becoming one of the world’s leading nature conservation organisations.
Harare, Zimbabwe–September 19, 2023 – The International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF) has announced its formal name change to Akashinga as part of the global non-profit’s broader rebrand. Akashinga, which translates to “The Brave Ones” in the Shona language, reflects the organisation’s multifaceted and community-centred approach to conservation, including through its unique all-female wildlife protection ranger units of the same name.
“Our work at Akashinga is centred on the understanding that when we address social issues, we have conservation outcomes,” said Akashinga Founder and CEO Damien Mander. “Over the years, our organisation has evolved to deliver solutions to global challenges at scale, all through local impact. By changing our name to Akashinga, we can better reflect the scope of our community-led, data-driven operating model. As we enter this new era as an organisation, I remain optimistic about the path ahead to bring about a future of nature conservation where all life can thrive.”
Established in 2009, the organisation’s early approach evolved to one that leads with social impact, centralised around women’s empowerment, to create scalable conservation outcomes. In 2017, Akashinga introduced the concept of recruiting, training, and empowering all-female wildlife rangers from local communities to mitigate poaching across southern and eastern Africa. Nearly 15 years since its founding, the organisation operates with a team of more than 500 staff and contractors.
Akashinga has continued to grow through partnerships with governments, other non-profits, and the communities it works with. These indigenous communities are Akashinga’s primary partners in identifying local needs, helping to deliver impact at scale by leading the organisation’s projects.
Through these partnerships, Akashinga has managed to build one of the largest portfolios of wilderness under protection by a non-profit in southern and eastern Africa. At present, Akashinga manages more than nine million acres of land, in addition to 40 miles of ocean frontage on Africa’s east coast, combining terrestrial, coastal, and marine conservation into a project of significant global ecological value. In the areas where Akashinga operates, there has been an 80% reduction in poaching, as well as a 400% increase in wildlife.
“I established Akashinga to address a critical need I witnessed first-hand, but the organisation has transformed since then to become so much more,” Mander continued. “I’m deeply grateful to our team of hundreds working from across the globe to have a real impact on protecting our planet and am eager for the next phase of our journey together.”
Akashinga’s work addresses social issues to provide conservation outcomes. This is embodied in the deep engagement in local communities, including local wellbeing projects that advance healthcare, water sanitation, education, and infrastructure development, among other critical areas. To date, Akashinga’s educational scholarship program has awarded over 200 long-term scholarships to primary and secondary school children. And each month, the health clinics Akashinga supports help provide medical care to more than 5,000 patients, servicing communities of up to 20,000 people.
“Through a strong culture of partnership and action, Akashinga is making a positive difference at an unprecedented scale,” said Akashinga Executive Director Melody Westen. “Our new name underscores that Akashinga’s impact as an organisation stems from the rangers implementing our unique science-based approach to deliver conservation solutions at scale. Their efforts are forging a better future for people and planet alike.”
Akashinga’s work has been awarded at the regional, national, and global levels. Its recognitions include the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival Disruptive Innovators Award, the 2019 Gender Champion Award (Dutch Government via the Embassy of the Netherlands), and the 2022 World Woman Hour via the World Woman Foundation. Dr Jane Goodall, DBE serves as Akashinga’s Advisory Board Chair, and endorsers of the organisation include Leonardo DiCaprio and Joaquin Phoenix.
Akashinga is an innovative conservation organisation that creates resilient ecosystems where nature and local communities thrive together. Guided by a unique science-based approach proven to deliver conservation impact at scale, Akashinga combines long-term leasing of large tracts of ecologically valuable land, scaling the first-of-its kind model of female landscape management, training local wildlife crime enforcement, and nurturing a nature-friendly economy through structural support of local communities. For more information, visit www.akashinga.org / www.iapf.org.