The Black Mambas 
The Inspiring Story of the FEMALE Anti-poaching Unit
Photo by: Solly LeviAuthor: Xtinct / Staff Writer Introduction

The Black Mambas Anti -Poaching unit was established in 2013 by Transfrontier Africa NPC to safeguard the most crucial areas of the Greater Kruger region. Presently, the team patrol an area of 20 000 hectares in the protected region and aims to expand its operations further. The unit operates on the "Broken Window" philosophy, making their influence area the least desirable, most challenging, and least profitable place to poach any species.

The women in the team, passionate about wildlife and rhino conservation, act as the voices in the community through their conservation efforts. Their main objectives are to protect rhinos through ground patrols and be role models in their communities. By confronting the social and moral decay resulting from rhino poaching these 36 young rangers and environmental monitors want their communities to understand that conservation is far more beneficial than poaching.

The Poaching Problem

Balule Nature Reserve and the surrounding area have been targeted by poachers, local communities, poaching gangs, and individuals from other regions. The area's easy accessibility and lucrative, highly sought-after wildlife, such as rhinos and elephants, have made this reserve attractive to these poachers.

The closest town to the reserve is Hoedspruit, with a population of around 3500 people. The town has a high unemployment rate of 40%, persistent poverty, and over 21% of its population over the age of 20 have no education. A few indigenous people live on Balule Nature Reserve land and some work for lodges or private landowners. However, some indigenous people have set snares and cages that threaten all wildlife due to their indiscriminate nature. The harvesting of bushmeat occurs due to local tradition and tribal culture, as well as for sustenance, given the poverty and high levels of unemployment in the area.
Photo by: Solly LeviTrade Products

The illegal trade of African Elephant ivory soared in the early 1970s, causing a significant decline in their population. Over 80% of the raw ivory traded came from poached elephants. Lions are the latest species targeted by the illegal wildlife trade (IWT) for the Asian 'medicinal' market. With wild tiger populations decreasing, poachers are turning to lions to meet the demand for potions made from cat bones.
Rhino poaching has dramatically increased due to the demand for rhino horn in Asian countries, particularly Vietnam and China, where it is used as a status symbol and in traditional medicine.

Pangolins are also a growing target of IWT, driven by the demand for their meat and scales in East Asia. Like rhino horn, pangolin scales are used in traditional medicine, and demand for them has increased in recent years, leading to illegal trade within Africa.

The Black Mambas undergo rigorous training to prepare for their role as wildlife protectors. They receive extensive training in tracking, surveillance, ecological management, and combat and unarmed self-defence techniques.

Their training includes both classroom instruction and hands-on fieldwork, focusing on developing the skills needed to identify and prevent poaching activity. The Black Mambas learn how to locate and remove snares, conduct roadblocks, and perform night patrols and observations. In addition to their technical training, the Black Mambas are also taught the importance of teamwork and communication as they work closely together to achieve their goals. They are outfitted with uniforms and gear, which provide the necessary tools to perform their duties effectively.

The Black Mambas' training equips them with the skills and knowledge needed to protect wildlife and prevent poaching in their area of influence. Their dedication and commitment to their mission testifies to their effectiveness as a first line of defence against poaching.

The Black Mambas serve as the first line of defence against poaching, detecting poachers through their daily patrols and providing critical intelligence to armed units within the reserve. They conduct visual policing and early detection by removing snares, conducting roadblocks, patrolling boundaries, and performing disruptive patrols in areas with high rhino density. Observation and listening posts are stationed in critical areas to monitor for signs of poisoning. At the same time, regular sweeps are conducted throughout the reserve and neighbouring tribal lands to locate snares and poacher camps.


The Black Mambas are primarily funded by the Department of Environment, Forestry, Fisheries and Transfrontier Africa NPC. This funding covers the salaries and expenses of the members of the unit, such as their uniforms, equipment, and training. This support is essential in enabling the Black Mambas to carry out their critical work of protecting wildlife and ecosystems in the area.

The Department of Environment, Forestry, Fisheries, and Transfrontier Africa NPC is responsible for protecting and managing the country's natural resources. They provide financial support to various organizations and initiatives aimed at conserving the environment and preserving the natural heritage of South Africa. By supporting the Black Mambas, the department plays a significant role in safeguarding the country's wildlife and biodiversity.

The Future
In conclusion, The Black Mambas are an inspiring group of women who have taken up the fight against poaching in South Africa. Through their tireless efforts, they have shown that even in the face of immense challenges, it is possible to make a difference. 

Their commitment to conservation has helped to protect countless animals and preserve the delicate balance of ecosystems in the region. However, their work is far from over, and they need our support to continue making a positive impact. By supporting The Black Mambas, we can help them expand their efforts, reach more communities, and ultimately end poaching.
Let's join forces with these brave women and work towards a future where wildlife thrives, and our planet is preserved for future generations to enjoy.