How the Black Mambas, South Africa’s first all-women anti-poaching team, are protecting endangered rhinos

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The Black Mambas, South Africa’s pioneering all-female anti-poaching team, is dedicated to safeguarding endangered rhinos and other wildlife in Olifants West Nature Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park. Their mission involves patrolling the reserve’s fences, tracking poachers, and removing snares that pose a threat to animals. Instead of carrying guns, they rely on calling for backup when encountering poachers, aiming to protect wildlife rather than resorting to violence. The team works for 21 days straight before taking a ten-day break to spend time with their families.

As an all-women unit, the Black Mambas aim to challenge stereotypes and inspire positive change. They believe that women possess unique qualities, such as nurturing and caretaking abilities, which make them well-suited for this conservation work. Initially facing resistance and criticism, the team persevered and proved that they can be just as capable and strong as men in this field.

The significance of their work lies in bolstering the local economy through wildlife tourism and ensuring that future generations can witness these magnificent animals firsthand. Over time, the Black Mambas have made remarkable progress, drastically reducing the number of snares found each day, and witnessing the resurgence of wildlife in the reserve.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the team faced additional challenges as job losses threatened to push some individuals towards poaching. To mitigate this, they initiated programs to provide food parcels to communities surrounding the park, preventing desperation-driven poaching. They also conducted educational initiatives in schools to teach children sustainable farming practices. As the situation improved and tourists returned, the threat of poaching decreased, allowing both wildlife and the local economy to recover.

This article was originally published in the Jul/Aug 2023 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK) and sheds light on the inspiring and successful efforts of the Black Mambas in protecting South Africa’s wildlife heritage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Keyword: Anti-poaching

What is the Black Mambas’ mission?

The Black Mambas’ mission is to protect endangered rhinos and other wildlife in Olifants West Nature Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger National Park, through anti-poaching efforts.

Do the Black Mambas carry guns?

No, the Black Mambas do not carry guns. If they encounter poachers, they are trained to call for backup rather than resorting to violence, aiming to conserve wildlife and avoid taking human lives.

Why are the Black Mambas an all-women team?

The Black Mambas are an all-women team to challenge stereotypes and show that women can be strong and capable in wildlife conservation. They believe their nurturing qualities make them well-suited for the job.

How successful have the Black Mambas been?

The Black Mambas have been highly successful in their efforts. Over time, they have drastically reduced the number of snares found, and wildlife in the reserve has rebounded due to their visible presence and anti-poaching actions.

How did the Covid-19 pandemic affect their work?

The pandemic posed challenges as job losses increased the risk of poaching. To mitigate this, the team provided food parcels to affected communities and conducted educational programs to promote sustainable farming.

What impact does the Black Mambas’ work have on the local economy?

Their work has a positive impact on the local economy by attracting wildlife tourists. By preserving wildlife, they ensure the continuity of this vital revenue source for the area.

More about Keyword: Anti-poaching

  • National Geographic Traveller (UK) article: Link
  • Black Mambas Official Website: Link
  • Olifants West Nature Reserve: Link
  • Greater Kruger National Park: Link

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