Women-led anti-poaching unit is ready to save our wildlife

By admin
03 October 2016

The Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit is the first of its kind in South Africa as almost all of its monitors are women.

The Black Mambas were founded by Balule Nature Reserve and Transfrontier Africa with the support of the Department of Environmental Affairs Extended Public Works: Environmental Monitor Programme, South African National Parks (SANParks) and several other funders with a keen interest in poaching prevention.

They have an impressive track record and now cover the entire Balule area, a massive 400 km².

This dedicated team, led by women, are constantly deployed searching for and destroying poacher’s camps, wire-snares and bushmeat kitchens. To assist in this challenging task they receive aerial support and help from specialist dogs.

Each member spends 21 days a month patrolling the reserves and they take a military approach with daily parades and issuing of orders before heading into the bush.

Black Mambas wear ranger uniforms, trained in tracking and combat but they work unarmed. They protect the animals by creating a visible police presence.

Socio-economic upliftment is a major factor in the Black Mambas programme which aims to create sustainable livelihoods for local communities by generating jobs and providing skills development that support conservation.

The Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit is part of the broader national Environmental Monitors Programme, which responds to environmental threats in protected areas and provides skills development, training and job creation to communities across South Africa. This programme proves that conservation isn’t just about protecting the environment but empowering the people that live in the environment.

Fast facts

  • The Black Mambas was started in 2013.
  • The Black Mambas have reduced snaring and poisoning activities by 76 percent in their area of operation.
  • In three years the Black Mambas have destroyed more than 10 poachers’ camps and three bushmeat kitchens.
  • In 2015 they won both the prestigious United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Champions of the Earth Award and Best Conservation Practitioner category in the South African Rhino Conservation Awards.

For more information, go to: citescop17jhb.co.za or blackmambas.org.

While the Black Mambas are protecting wildlife in Balule, South Africa is preparing to host the prestigious prestigious CITES CoP17 in Johannesburg.

CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an international agreement between governments. Its aim is to ensure international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants doesn’t threaten their survival.

Fast facts

  • 182 parties are part of CITES.
  • Around 25 000 plant and 5 000 animal species are covered by the provisions of the Convention.

The 182 parties of CITES are attending a conference in Johannesburg until 5 October 2016. They will make critical decisions on wildlife trade policy and the scope of regulatory control over international trade in specific species.

They will evaluate the progress made since 2013, and make decisions on what additional measures are needed to end illicit wildlife trafficking.

Running parallel to the conference is an exhibition at the Sandton Convention Centre that is open to the public. It’s a fascinating space to learn about conservation and the work being done by the Department of Environmental Affairs to ensure that sustainable livelihoods are generated from conservation.

For more information, go to: citescop17jhb.co.za.

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