Image credit: Jason Boswell and Jo Munnik, Video: BBC News

AnimalsSociety South Africa15. December 2023

These Women Work Hard to Save Rhinos

An all-female anti-poaching unit – the first in South Africa – is saving the country’s emblematic rhino from falling prey to poachers without using weapons while significantly impacting local wildlife conservation.

“Most people locally believe that [rhinos] belong to white people,” says Cutie Mhlongo, a Black Mamba since 2014. “We want to change that way of thinking, so that everyone in our community knows that this wildlife belongs to all of us.”

Established in 2013, the Black Mambas – whose name is inspired by the deadly snake – operate in the Olifants West Nature Reserve, a 20,000-hectare area within the Greater Kruger National Park. Every Mamba goes through intensive training and abides by a military-like discipline. Armed only with pepper spray, handcuffs, and radios – they do not carry weapons and instead rely on armed backup when faced with armed poachers – rangers are tracked in real-time and operate their own command control centre. Becoming a Black Mamba is an excellent employment opportunity for women, empowering their social standing and helping them gain economic independence.


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