Women 'better than men at preventing poaching'

2015-09-08 08:02
Black Mambas Collet Ngobeni (left) and Felicia Mogakane attended the announcement that the almost all-women rhino anti-poaching unit has won the UN Champions of the Earth award in the Inspiration and Action category. (Department of Environmental Affa

Black Mambas Collet Ngobeni (left) and Felicia Mogakane attended the announcement that the almost all-women rhino anti-poaching unit has won the UN Champions of the Earth award in the Inspiration and Action category. (Department of Environmental Affa

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Phalaborwa - Women are better at anti-poaching than men, a member of the mostly female award-winning Black Mambas unit has said.

"I think [the unit being female] was because Craig [Spencer, the Mamba's founder] saw young women could do this job better and can commit themselves better to it," member Collet Ngobeni told News24.

She said women were also better at "keeping secrets" than men.

"Sometimes the poachers get information from inside the reserve and, with us, no information gets out."

'Champions of the Earth'

On Monday, the United Nations named the unit the "Champions of the Earth".

"I think [the award] is going to motivate more young women about the job we are doing and they have to follow us to help protect our wild animals," Ngobeni said.

The unit, comprising 25 women and one man, patrols the Olifants West region of the Balule Game Reserve creating a barrier with the Kruger National Park, the area where most of the poaching happens.

"We patrol everyday with two or three groups. One group patrols along the fence looking for holes and another collects snares [in the reserve]," she said.

"We sometimes do roadblocks at the gate and when it is a full moon, we do night patrols."

Ngobeni said the rampant poaching of rhino, and her love for nature led to her joining the unit at its inception in 2013.

"I saw in the newspaper and on the TV a lot of rhino are being killed. I decided I had to fight against poaching so future generations can see the rhino face-to-face and not on a poster."

She said she often told her 4-year-old daughter about her job and that she was doing it so "one day she will be able to see the animals".

'We salute these young women'

Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa congratulated the unit on the award.

"I, and all South Africans, salute these young women who all come from communities close to the Balule Game Reserve and Kruger National Park, who have shown dedication and commitment to the conservation of our natural world," Molewa said in a statement.

In announcing the award, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said it recognised the "rapid and impressive impact the Black Mambas have made in combating poaching and the courage required to accomplish it".

"Community-led initiatives are crucial to combating the illegal trade in wildlife and the Black Mambas highlight how effective local knowledge and commitment can be," UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon would hand over the award to Ngobeni and her colleague Felicia Mogakane in New York on September 27.

On July 27, the unit won the Best Conservation Practitioner Category of the annual Rhino Conservation Awards, hosted by the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Game Rangers Association of Africa.

Read more on:    mbombela  |  conservation  |  rhino poaching  |  poaching

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