The Black Mambas, South Africa’s first all-female anti-poaching unit, operates in the Olifants West Nature Reserve within the Greater Kruger National Park. Established in 2013, this unit takes an unconventional approach by not carrying firearms. Instead, they focus on removing snares and traps, significantly reducing poaching activities, particularly rhino poaching, in the reserve.
- Unarmed Approach: Unlike typical armed male rangers, the Black Mambas do not carry guns. They rely on armed backup when confronting armed poachers, using non-lethal tools like pepper spray, handcuffs, and radios.
- Impact on Conservation: Since their inception, the Black Mambas have effectively reduced poaching, especially of rhinos, within their area of operation through their vigilant removal of traps and snares.
- Empowering Local Women: Joining the Black Mambas provides significant social and economic empowerment for women in local communities, offering them scarce employment opportunities and enhancing their social standing.
- Changing Community Perceptions: The unit is also focused on changing local perceptions about wildlife, promoting the idea that wildlife is a shared community resource, not exclusive to any particular group.
- Training and Discipline: The unit operates with military-like discipline and intensive training, allowing them to effectively respond to various situations despite being unarmed.