Image credit: International Anti Poaching Foundation

How Many Elephants? 

This week saw the first World Female Ranger Day.

Over a two-part blog, we will teach English language skills for creatives by introducing you to the work of graphic artist Holly Budge, and the How Many Elephants design-led campaign to protect African elephants. This includes the conception of World Female Ranger Day.

How Many Elephants is a rich, wonderful subject for language learning for creative professionals.

So rich I need to break it into parts!  Here in part one, I introduce you to World Female Ranger Day.

Find out how teams of all-female rangers are saving elephants – in some countries armed only with handcuffs and pepper spray (in other countries armed with guns).

In this blog, we discuss what femininity brings to this traditional male job.

I also give you a reading recommendation for English learning.

It’s pure fiction (wonderfully so) but the South African Black Mambas bring it to mind for a couple of reasons.

Read on to find out just why it’s a great read for learning English as a second language!

In part two, our second blog on the subject,  we will look more closely at the graphic design work and campaigning of Holly Budge and at the How Many Elephants design-led charity she founded.

Please note that all images are used with permission.

It’s a Numbers Game

And lastly, how good are you at using your numbers in English?

Unfortunately, for a speaker of English as a second language, the need to understand them rapidly never goes away.

Throughout this blog post, I will (unusually) write out numbers in full. It’s good practice for you – and as you will see, numbers are incredibly important to both of today’s topics.

As usual, there’s an English practice exercise at the end!

English language skills for creatives How Many Elephants World Female Ranger Day logo

World Female Ranger Day

The twenty-third of June was the first World Female Ranger Day and on Tuesday, R4 Women’s Hour presenter Emma Barnett interviewed ranger Collet Ngobeni of the all-female Black Mambas (South Africa) and Holly Budge (UK), founder of the design agency charity How Many Elephants.

Both women spoke of their remarkable work preventing poaching. Holly began her agency after learning the mind-boggling number of elephants killed daily by poaching (ninety-six).

At this rate, African elephants will not exist in the wild in ten years time – along with all the ecosystems which depend on them.

Holly aimed to create graphic campaigns which would highlight this cause and attract funding to support the work of rangers who protect wildlife from poachers.


“We champion and support female rangers on the front line, through funding anti-poaching, educational and community-orientated projects in Africa”

How Many Elephants website


Listen to the full interview

Life-Changing Design

The How Many Elephants campaign support and promote woman rangers internationally, through the sale of graphic artworks, business collaborations and traditional fundraising.  They are the instigators of World Female Rangers Day.

This year focuses on Africa where around three and a half thousand female rangers work across eighteen different countries.

Int he interview, Collet Ngobeni (South Africa) spoke of her preventive work as a ranger. Armed only with a smartphone, handcuffs and pepper spray, the Black Mambas patrol huge areas – on safari and away from home one week at a time (don’t close your eyes in the camp shower – there are lions).

They aim to be visible deterrents to poachers (other anti-poacher groups are likely to carry guns). They report their crimes to the police and engage with educational outreach.

Collet explains that she often deals with poachers who know nothing about ecology and part of her job is to educate them. (Imagine trying to educate a poacher armed with an elephant gun!).

The last fifteen months have been tough.

COVID has lessened the numbers of guards on the ground but unfortunately, not the poachers.

What are you doing next?

It was a great interview. At the end the presenter Emma Barnet asks Collet the simple question, what are you going to do now after this interview – paint us a picture? Collet explains she’s waiting for night parol which starts at six pm.


“It slightly puts my line of work into perspective. I’m sat here in a studio and you’re off to protect rhinos and elephants”.


Emma Barnet, Women’s Hour, R4, 22 June 2021



The excellent How Many Elephants website further describes the empowerment of women who become Black Mambas. It describes they work as a team together; at times their very lives depended on other team members. Also, how the traditional South African roles for women are getting a shaking by the Black Mambas. In fact, whole communities are being transformed by this work – transformed out of poverty, disease and hardship, but also out of patriarchy.

The role of the woman as a nurturer is taken for granted in the interview, and it is implied at the beginning of the interview that because of this female trait, a woman could bring more to this role as an agent-protector than men.

When asked this, Collet answers this at first simply by saying ‘heart’, she adds the fact that they are all mothers and female qualities help her do her work.

To paraphrase, the Black Mambas bring their hearts to the job, whereas men would bring information. It’s the female ‘heart’ that will convincingly change male poaching behaviour.


English language skills for creatives How Many Elephants World Female Ranger Day
Screenshot of the How Many Elephants website

Our Reading Recommendation

Books for English language learners Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum series

A stack of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series

A Smartphone, Handcuffs and Pepper Spray

I want to jump to some fiction I’ve been enjoying – and recommend it for English language learners in general. Bear with me, you’ll see the connection in a minute.

Am I the last person to find Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series? I hope there are a few readers out there still to recruit. I’ve been enjoying them immensely.

The good news is there are loads of them  – twenty-eight at last count, and it’s easy to know as each book has a corresponding number in its title, starting from ‘One for the Money’, with the annoying exception of twenty-seven, ‘Fortune and Glory’ – what happened there? (Twenty-Seven – Gone to Heaven?) 

The bad news is that they are seriously addictive and no only is each book a page-turner, you get a cliffhanger at the end of each novel to hook you into the next. (I’m on book sixteen and five months ago I hadn’t even heard of them).

Books for English language learners Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum series
List of  book titles in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. (Some are real English idioms and some are completely made up). 

Double Trouble

Anyway, to tell you a little about why I like them. There’s Stephanie Plum. Young attractive and desperately skint, she tumbles without much thought for consequences into a job as a bounty hunter. She’s joined quite early on in the series by the irrepressible, trigger-happy Lula whose personality is even more laid back and haphazard than Stephanie’s. They both have a palpable lust for life and a (surely fictional?) appetite for sex and for doughnuts –  and a few close calls with death early on unite them

Compared to her trigger happy friend, Stephanie has a terror of the handgun she is supposed to carry (mostly it remains in the biscuit jar at home). Her lack of a gun gets her into trouble and saves the day alternately.

Like the Black Mambas, she is also only armed with a smart phone, handcuffs and pepper spray. 

They are crazy, clever, fun novels with cars blowing up at an astonishing rate. Two handsome guys are love rivals to Stephanie and she swithers between them throughout the series while they remain unswervingly devoted to her.

There are witty characters. Heroes are villainous and oddball criminals charming. It’s a fantasy portrayal of American life, but it is shrewd in its descriptions of how black women and white women have very different experiences living within the same city in the USA. The financial inequalities of the USA and the desperation of poverty are well portrayed – as s is that kind of anything-goes mood that the USA has compared to uptight, rule-loving Britain.



“Lula had Eminem cranked up. He was rapping about trailer park girls and how they go round the outside, and I was wondering what the heck that meant. I’m a white girl from Trenton. I don’t know these things. I need a rap cheat sheet.”


 Stephanie Plum/Janet Evanovich, To The Nines


Using Heart to Changing Preceptions and Attitudes Towards Women 

Our heroines are plucky and lucky – in that they survive everything thrown at them (literally), but are constantly making gaffs as they try to find their role as women in a very male industry.

In the first couple of books, Stephanie tries to play the male game as a man would, but she wises up and brings her own touch (sometimes as cliched as using hairspray for pepper spray) and style to the job.

She very much brings her ‘heart’.

About Reading Books in English

The whole series are superb reads. Fun, exciting and compulsive – which is exactly what you would want in a novel in a second language.

What if English language learning doesn’t feel like work?

Everyone has different motivations, but I for one am much more likely to get around to it, rather than putting it off.

Language learners – can you find books easily in the language you are looking for?

I heartily recommend a Kindle for this purpose (or a non-Amazon version). The licensing laws for books are different in every country, so you don’t get the vast selection of any book anywhere ever written as you would by searching in your native language (or the country your Kindle is registered in).

However, you do get a much better selection than any bookshop could give.

Even if you are a traditionalist and prefer paper editions – you might consider keeping a Kindle just for books in a second language – especially if the style of books you chose is less precious and more ‘throw away fiction’.

Hint! Don’t make the mistake I made! I bought the first few Janet Evanovich books individually. I could have saved a small fortune by buying them up in bulk!

Further Information

World Female Ranger Day is co-founded by Holly Budge (Founder of HME) and Margot Dempsey (Head of Communications at HME).

The WFRD website is here

To stay updated and get involved in the online community, follow @worldfemalerangerday on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube and Linkedin, and @femalerangerday on Twitter, use the hashtags, #worldfemalerangerday

Many Thanks

Thank you, Collet and every one of the Black Mambas for the work you do: your bravery and heart is inspirational. (Just think of them patrolling at night while you sleep in your bed).

A huge thank you to Margot Dempsey for taking the time to explain How Many Elephants to me over Zoom and answer all my questions.

English Language Skills for Creatives

Thank you for reading about World Female Ranger Day and about the Black Mambas.

I’ve given you tips for reading fiction books to learn English as a second language.

We have also reviewed your numbers. You should aim to be able to comprehend numbers without any pause while you mentally translate.

It’s simply just practice.

We cover a broad range of topics in our language school blogs – some a lighthearted look at Scotland, others an in-depth look at art and culture. 

If you’ve liked this blog, there is more! Please do check out part 2.

English for Designers | Holly Budge & How Many Elephants



Your Blue Noun English Language Challenge is:

“How and when do use numbers in your work?”

Practice here!  As usual, write as much as you like in the comments – and if you would like us to check &  correct your English, write CP  (correct please) at the end.


Live language learning!


“How and when do use numbers in your work?”