Not a single rhino has been killed within the territory they protect in over ten months.
Since 2013, the Black Mambas, a 26-member mostly-female band of anti-poaching militants have helped protect the Balule Private Game Reserve in South Africa. According to the U.N., in two years they have “Helped arrest six poachers, reduced snaring by 76%, removed over 1,000 snares, and put five poachers’ camps and two bush meat kitchens out of action.” The reserve they have sworn to protect is home to not only rhino, but elephants, cheetahs, hippos, and leopards as well.
For their work, the U.N. is giving the Black Mambas the Champions of the Earth Award for its “Rapid and impressive impact” with its anti-poaching efforts. “Community-led initiatives are crucial to combatting the illegal wildlife trade and the Black Mambas highlight the importance and effectiveness of local knowledge and commitment,” said Achim Steiner, the UNEP Executive Director.
According to the Mambas, not a single rhino has been killed within the territory they protect in over ten months. Over the same period, in a neighboring reserve, over 23 have been killed by poachers. Rhino protection is vital to South Africa with over 1200 having been killed in 2014 alone. Since 2004, a massive poaching epidemic in the area has pushed the rhino to the brink of extinction. According to Black Mamba Leitah Mkhabela, “I am not afraid, I know what I am doing and I know why I am doing it. If you see the poachers you tell them not to try, tell them we are here and it is they who are in danger."
According to the Black Mambas’ website its main objective is:
“...the protection of wildlife but we also strive to create a strong bond and educate the communities that live on the boundaries of Balule and the Greater Kruger Park to the benefits of saving their natural heritage. It is our belief that the war on poaching will not be won with guns and bullets, but through the local communities and education.”
The Black Mambas will receive their award on September 27th at the Sustainable Development Summit in New York.