AS the world marks International Women’s Day on March 8, soft-spoken Anna Titus Laroya deserves a pat on her back for one reason. She is the only female pilot flying an anti-poaching patrol aircraft in Tanzania’s game reserves, national parks and the renowned Ngorongoro conservation area authority.
Captain Anna Titus Laroya’s name deserves to be inscribed in Tanzania’s list of heroines as the east African nation joins other nations across the globe in commemorating International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women.
‘From 2010 when I started flying to date, I have accumulated more than 1,600 flying hours,’ Laroya told Xinhua news agency ahead of International Women’s Day to be marked on Tuesday.
Laroya said she flies a Cessna 182 aircraft which is a typical plane used for aerial animal census and aerial wildlife anti-poaching patrols.
She said depending on the objective of a specific animal census, most animal census are conducted in all protected areas in the country, including game reserves, national parks and the Ngorongoro conservation area authority.
‘It was my childhood dream to be a pilot,’ said Laroya, an employee of the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI) headquartered in the Tanzania’s northern tourist city of Arusha.
The female pilot said currently she is doing aerial patrols at the Ngorongoro conservation area authority where she has been seconded to work with the conservation authority.
Previously, Laroya conducted anti-poaching patrols in almost all the country’s game reserves, including Selous, Rungwa, Ugalla, Moyowosi, Kigosi, Maswa, Biharamulo and Burigi.
‘Balancing family life and flying schedules requires a committed and supportive partner as most of our work is field work,’ she said, ‘when I am at work I am a pilot and when I am home I am a wife and a mother. Differentiating and not mixing the two makes my life simple and easier.’
‘Being the only female pilot in the wildlife sector does not really bother me much because I just do what I am required to do like any other pilot who is doing the same type of flights,’ said Laroya.
She said she looks forward to continuing flying for conservation and continue making an impact in conserving wildlife resources in Tanzania.
‘Through my work I would also like to continue inspiring more young women to pursue their dreams and become who they want to be in life,’ she said.