South Africa’s first all female anti-poaching unit, The Black Mambas, believe the war on poaching “won’t be won with guns and bullets alone”, but education. Hence why the camouflage uniformed-clad troop patrol unarmed.
The Black Mambas was established in 2013 to focus on conservation of the 52,000-hectare Balule Nature Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park.
The women, some of whom are as young as 18, are there to protect the country’s lions, pangolin, elephants and rhinos, whose horns are thought to have medicinal properties and can be sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars on the black market.
The female anti-poaching unit track about 78 miles of the park’s border for eight hours a day, looking for snares or traps, inspecting the border fence and searching cars for weapons or contraband.
Since The Black Mambas began patrolling the reserve, snaring and illegal bush meat incidents have been reduced by 76% and the number of rhinos lost to poaching has plummeted.
The anti-poaching unit has successfully tackled poaching by developing local partnerships with communities and trying to instil a sense of patriotism about wildlife parks and their value to South Africa.
The Black Mambas also use education to make their communities aware that conservation benefits far outweigh those of poaching.
Under the Black Mambas’ Bush Babies conservation project, which has been adopted by 13 primary schools, school children learn about conservation, ecology and the importance of rhinos. The programme teaches kids the value of their natural surroundings and how they can help protect them for future generations.
By investing in children, The Black Mambas believe they’re helping to shape the next generation of environmental leaders. Since the inception of the Bush Babies program in April 2015, we have reached over 2,000 children.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyles including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com