South Africa

The Black Mamba anti-poaching unit (APU) is the first all-female anti-poaching unit in South Africa. The teams operate within Balule Nature Reserve, part of the Greater Kruger Park.

These women, with a passion for wildlife and rhino conservation, are the voice in the community through their conservation work. The objectives of the Black Mamba project is not only the protection of rhinos through boots on the ground but also through being a role model in their communities. They want their communities to understand that there are far greater benefits to them through rhino conservation rather than poaching.

These women have undertaken a paramilitary training and are trained to work in a big 5 area. Their job in the field consists of visual policing and early detection through pulling out snares, conducting road blocks, patrolling boundaries, night patrols and observations, assisting in VHF rhino tracking plus other ecological management duties.

This unit of young African women hopes to address the social and moral decay that is a product of the rhino poaching within their communities. They are concerned for their children’s sake as the false economy has brought loose morals and narcotics into their communities.

There are 32 young women and two men from the previously disadvantaged communities on the border of the Kruger National Park. These women are deployed in five different areas with the 50,000 hectare Balule Nature Reserve that borders the Kruger on both sides of the Olifants River.

They patrol on foot during the day and by vehicle at night.

The area of operation is within the "buffer Zone" as well as within the borders of Balule. The buffer zone is a conglomerate of tribal lands and private wildlife farms.

The Black Mambas work to the concept of the "Broken Window" philosophy and strive to make their area of influence the "most undesirable, most difficult and least profitable place to poach".

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