The world’s first all-female anti-poaching patrol unit is fighting to save endangered rhinos in South Africa! The Black Mamba squad is made up of 26 local women who patrol the Balule Nature Reserve, an area rich in wildlife due at risk to the poaching crisis in the country. And, reports show that the Black Mambas are making a huge difference — in the past ten months, the reserve has not lost a single rhino while a neighboring reserve lost 23 endangered rhinos during the same period.
The Black Mambas are the brainchild of Craig Spencer, Balule’s head warden. “We are not going to police the problem away,” he explained. “The problem really is that there is this perception that has developed in the communities outside the park, they see a uniformed official and think we are the sheriff of Nottingham, they see the poachers as Robin Hood.” By hiring women from the local community, he hoped to win the trust of local communities and help residents feel invested in protecting wildlife.
For their part, the women are proud of their roles in protecting the rhinos and scoff at those who think women aren’t up for the job: “Lots of people said, how can you work in the bush when you are a lady? But I can do anything I want,” said Leitah Michabela, a Black Mamba for the last two years. “I am a lady, I am going to have a baby. I want my baby to see a rhino, that’s why I am protecting it.”
South Africa is home to more than 80% of Africa’s rhino populations where they are under constant threat. Working in conjunction with the reserve’s armed guards, the Black Mambas set up listening posts as well as search for and destroy poacher’s camps, wire snares, and bush-meat kitchens every day. Due to such efforts, snare poaching has dropped in the park by 90%.
And, of course, they serve as a visual reminder of the connection between the community and the park. As Black Mamba member Collette Ngobeni asserts, “If we work together as a community we can work this out. People need to open their minds, their hearts. It’s not about money, it’s about our culture, our future.”
For an excellent book about rhino scientist Terri Roth and her efforts to save the rare Sumatran rhino, check out “Emi and the Rhino Scientist” for age 10 and up athttp://www.amightygirl.com/emi-and-the-rhino-scientist
To encourage your children’s interest in protecting wildlife and the environment, visit our special feature on “The Top Children’s Books on the Environment” athttp://www.amightygirl.com/…/top-children-s-books-on-the-en…
For fictional stories about the love between Mighty Girls and animals in our post “Animal Friends: 20 Mighty Girl Stories About Caring For Animals” athttp://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=6996
And, if your Mighty Girl would like to turn her love of animals into a career helping to protect them one day, check out our post, “I Want To Be a Wildlife Biologist!”, for a variety of books for children and teens about female wildlife biologists, as well as other toys, clothing, and even room decor to encourage her interest athttp://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=6004
Thanks to MJS