The REAL lionesses of Africa: Stunning ‘Black Mambas’ are first all-female anti-poaching unit risking their lives to protect big cats, rhinos and elephants from men with guns
- WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
- Black Mambas is all female, anti-poaching group working in Balule reserve
- They free animals from snares and radio in poachers’ locations to rangers
- Women’s lives are constantly at risk from poachers, animals they protect
- Poaching in Balule reduced by 75 per cent since Mambas formed in 2013
They are in fact the Black Mambas, an all female anti-poaching unit risking their own lives to protect the endangered animals being hunted for their horns, fur and meat.
On their daily patrols around the Balule reserve, near Kruger National Park, they face the very real prospect of being gunned down by poachers or mauled to death by the animals they swore to protect.
Despite the dangers, and against the odds, the Mambas are winning the battle against poaching. Their presence alone has reduced poaching in Balule by 75 per cent and their methods could now be rolled out across the country.
Protectors: The all-female Black Mambas risk their lives to protect the endangered animals being targetted by poachers in the South African bush
Winning: The Mambas (pictured), many of whom are mothers and wives, have reduced poaching in the Balule reserve, near Kruger National Park, by 75 per cent
Endangered: The Mambas’ most important job is to protect the rhinos being targetted by poachers for their horns, which sell for more than cocaine on the black market (pictured, Black Mamba helping victims of rhino poaching at the Rhino Revolution Rehabilitation Centre)
When Siphiwe Sithole told her parents she wanted to be a Black Mamba, they feared she would be eaten by a lion.
They were right to worry. Since joining in 2014, she has had two very close encounters with the King of the Jungle.
Siphiwe, 31, said: ‘The first time was when I first started working as a Mamba. I ran from it [the lion], which was wrong. You should never run from a lion!
‘I was put on a special course which taught me how to deal with wild animals, should I ever meet them. I then met some lions for a second time and this time I knew how to behave.’
The women’s backgrounds vary, but for some who come from poor families and villages, joining the Mambas is their only chance at a well paying job. Some even become the bread winners in the family.
Day-to-day duties of the 26 strong Mamba team include freeing animals trapped by barb wire snares, and patrolling the 400 square km Balule reserve looking for the slain carcasses of endangered rhinos.
Poachers killed at least 1,215 rhinos in 2014 – up from just 13 in 2007. It was this alarming trend that inspired Siphiwe to take action.
Patrol: On their daily treks in Balule reserve, they risk being gunned down by poachers or mauled by the animals they swore to protect
Opportunity: For many women from poor families and villages, joining the Black Mambas is their only chance at getting a well paying job
Unarmed: The Mambas, swathed in green military fatigues, look more like soldiers than they do conservationists but they do not carry guns
Harrowing: Their patrols in the Balule reserve, near Kruger National Park, deter poachers who hunt rhinos (pictured) for their horns, which sell for more than cocaine on the black market
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3458085/The-REAL-lionesses-Africa-Stunning-Black-Mambas-female-anti-poaching-unit-risking-lives-protect-big-cats-rhinos-elephants-men-guns.html#ixzz41UrC6uON
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