Representatives of the unique all-female anti-poaching unit, the Black Mambas, are visiting the UK for the first time later this month (February) to receive Helping Rhinos ‘Innovation in Conservation’ Award.
The two paramilitary-trained women will also give talks at London Zoo and Port Lympne Reserve and explain about their crucial role in combatting poachers who threaten the existence of already endangered species in their native South Africa.
Brave, sassy and utterly determined to protect the rhino and other wildlife in their natural environment, the 26-strong female Black Mambas walk up to 20km a day to patrol the Balule Game Reserve in the Greater Kruger Park, South Africa. Their success since they formed in 2013 has seen a 76% reduction in poaching incidents, more than 1,000 snares removed, 5 poachers’ camps destroyed, 2 bush meat kitchens out of action and 6 poachers arrested.
Combatting the poaching syndicates is fraught with danger. Rhino horn is valued more highly than gold on the black market and across Africa it is estimated that more than 1000 rangers have been killed in the line of duty in the last ten years. But the Black Mambas are undeterred. Leitah Mkhabela, a member of the Black Mambas, explained: “I am not afraid. I know what I am doing and why I am doing it. It is the poachers who are in danger. Animals have a right to live.”
The Innovation in Conservation Award recognises this courage and the inspiration they have sparked both in their community and around the world.
Sunday 21st Feb – Black Mambas arrive in the UK
Monday 22nd Feb – Black Mambas and Richard Vigne (CEO of Ole Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya) give a talk at Port Lympne Reserve in Kent. (www.aspinallfoundation.org/port-lympne)
Tuesday 23rd Feb – Black Mambas and Richard Vigne give a talk to staff at London Zoo
Thursday 25th Feb – Black Mambas sightseeing in London, including a trip to the House of Commons
Friday 26th Feb – Black Mambas return to South Africa in the late afternoon