Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit

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The Black Mambas
The Black Mambas

The Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit is a South African all-female anti-poaching unit established in 2013. They are named after the venomous snake, the black mamba, known for its aggression and speed. The unit operates in the Greater Kruger area, which includes the Balule Nature Reserve and surrounding private reserves.

The primary objective of the Black Mambas is to combat the poaching of rhinos and other wildlife in the region. Poaching, particularly for rhino horn, has been a major threat to the survival of the rhino. The Black Mambas work to protect rhinos, deter poachers, and gather intelligence to support law enforcement efforts.

The unit consists of women from local communities surrounding the reserves. Many of these women were previously unemployed or engaged in subsistence farming. By recruiting and training local women, the Black Mambas provide economic opportunities and empowerment to these communities while addressing the urgent conservation needs.

The Black Mambas undergo rigorous training that includes physical fitness, wildlife tracking, navigation, unarmed combat, and firearm handling. They patrol the reserves on foot, conducting regular surveillance and working closely with local communities to gather information on poaching activities. They also engage in community outreach and education programs to raise awareness about the importance of wildlife conservation.

Since their establishment, the Black Mambas have achieved notable success in their mission. Their efforts have led to a significant reduction in poaching incidents, providing a model for community-based conservation initiatives. They have received international recognition and numerous awards for their outstanding work in wildlife protection.


The Awards The Black Mambas have received:

  • 2022: SES (Scientific Exploration Society) Pioneers with Purpose Award
  • 2022: IUCN, Highly Commended Ranger Team Award
  • 2021: IUCN, Highly Commended Ranger (Nkateko Mzimba) Award
  • 2020: The Sierra Club, The Earth Care Award
  • 2020: The Paradise International Foundation, Ranger of the Year Award
  • 2019: International Institute for Peace through Tourism in conjunction with the Resilience Council, Change Maker in Tourism Award (Craig Spencer)
  • Resilient Efforts Through Cultural Diversity Award (The Black Mambas)
  • 2017: The Eco-Warrior Silver Award
  • 2015: UN Champion of the Earth Award
  • 2015: Rhino Conservation Award
  • Best Conservation Practitioner of the Year

See also

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