The Black Mambas - All Female Anti-Poaching Unit
The Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit was founded in 2013 by Transfrontier Africa NPC to protect the Olifants West Nature Reserve in the Greater Kruger.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN - The Black Mamba Project Ethos
The Black Mamba APU was a concept designed to address an emerging problem in 2013, when rhino poachers targeted the Balule landscape. Balule is a protected area of 56 000ha, and is open to the Kruger National Park, with 136km of the park’s western boundary under its direct management. A unique approach to dealing with this problem was sought, as poaching is not a new threat to wildlife, and it certainly will not be won with guns and bullets alone. What is needed, is a relationship with the local communities, where values can be exchanged and fostered.
Within the first year of operation the Black Mambas were invited to expand into other regions and now protect not only Olifants West Nature Reserve, but also Gritjie Private Nature Reserve, Ekuthuleni Conservancy and Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre.
One of the causes of the recent rise in poaching is the impact of China's economic boom. A report into the study of the ivory trade found that the number of ivory items on sale in key centres in southern China has more than doubled since 2004, with most traded illegally. These findings come amid reports of a dramatic rise in rhino poaching across Africa over the past 2 decades. The price of rhino horn has soared in the Far East where it is used in alternative medicine as a cure for everything from nightmares to dysentery. In South Africa alone, where horn is worth more per gram than cocaine, the monitoring network "Traffic" reported that 769 rhinos were killed in 2018, During 2019, rhino poaching declined, with 594 rhinos poached nationally during the year.
This decline can be attributed to a combination of measures implemented in line with government’s strategy, including improved capabilities to react to poaching incidents linked to better situational awareness and deployment of technology; improved information collection and sharing amongst law enforcement authorities; better regional and national cooperation and more meaningful involvement of the private sector, NGOs and donors.
Our teams work to the concept of the “Broken Window” philosophy, striving to make our area of influence the most undesirable, most difficult and least profitable place to poach any species. With a passion for wildlife and rhino conservation, these women are the voice in the community through their conservation work.
The objectives of the Black Mamba project are not only the protection of rhinos through boots on the ground but also through being a role model in their communities. These 36 young rangers and Environmental Monitors want their communities to understand that the benefits are greater through rhino conservation rather than poaching, addressing 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.
The Bush Babies Environmental Education Program
The Bush Babies Environmental Education Program is an environmental awareness program that is conducted at primary schools in the communities surrounding Greater Kruger National Park. With four currently active schools and a total of 264 learners, we are aiming to create an environmentally literate community. The program is divided into 4 category themes;
• Basic ecology (grass, trees, soils, environment, water etc.)
• Friends of the rhino (mammals, reptiles, birds, insects etc.)
• Tour my world
• Protectors of the rhinos (Black Mamba APU)
The schools are visited on a weekly basis and a different aspect based on the theme of the day is discussed to familiarise the learners with their natural environment and emphasising the importance to conserve the environment for future generations. With the tour my world theme, Transfrontier Africa volunteers from around the world are taken to the classroom where they teach the Bush Babies about their home countries including facts such as the climate, animals and special features.
The protectors of the rhino theme entails the visit and teachings from our Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit ladies who teach the learners about poaching and how it affects them. Also addressing how they are working to protect these species. The Black Mambas are not only anti-poaching rangers but mothers who know how to nurture a child to understanding the basics of life thus helping them understand the importance of looking after our environment.