Meet the Black Mambas, an all Female Anti-Poaching Unit in South Africa
When you look at their faces, you may be tempted to think that these are just your ordinary female game rangers, especially with their serene faces and smiles. But do not mistake their calm disposition for weakness, they’re the tough, badass, award-winning Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit.
They are the first majority female anti-poaching unit in South Africa, and they are saving endangered rhinos and elephants while giving poachers endless headaches. Who are these women and what inspires them?
So great have been these women’s efforts and success that they were the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) Champions of the Earth award winners of 2015. They were credited for up to a 76 percent reduction of poaching in South Africa and for having removed over 1000 traps or snares in the game parks. This they did while covering 20km (12.5m) on foot every day in the parks.
“We’re driven by not only the desire to save our wildlife but to also inspire the community around the parks to own these resources and protect them,” said the Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit during an interview with Citizen Truth. “Through our Bush Babies Environmental Education Program, we aim at educating all children and communities on how to care for the environment, animals included,” further added the unit.
Origin of the Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit
The unit was founded by Transfrontier Africa in 2013 with the aim of protecting the Olifants West Region of Balule Nature Reserve in South Africa. It was formed in the wake of an alarming rise in poaching which caused a sharp decline in elephant and rhino populations.
After only a year, they were invited to expand their operation to the larger Kruger National Park still in South Africa. Today, they protect all of the 52,000ha Balule Nature Reserve. Now made up of 32 women and one man, the unit is still passionate about conserving wildlife and especially rhinos.
According to their website, the unit says they, “want their communities to understand that the benefits are greater through rhino conservation rather than poaching, and to address the social and moral decay that is a product of the rhino poaching within their communities.” It’s an objective of the unit to be a role model to communities around the game reserves to inspire them to take up nature conservation too.
How the Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit Operates
The unit believes early detection and swift response is key in the war against poaching. They patrol the parks and report on any anomalies such as fence tampering. Using camera traps, VHF and also GPS transmitters they have stationed observation and listening posts in hotspots like watering points. They can then monitor activity and gather information and act accordingly.
Black Mambas also conduct impromptu patrols and searches in places where rhinos gather. They mount roadblocks and search all vehicles passing through for any suspicious items. They conduct regular inspections on all buildings within the reserve to ensure compliance with the anti-poaching agenda.
The unit further identifies snares set up by game meat hunters and unsets them. They then destroy their camps and game meat kitchens discouraging them from anymore effort.
The Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit has won critical global acclaim for their efforts to save endangered animals. If you want to help support the Black Mambas, you can donate to them here.