The objective of the Black Mambas is not only the protection of rhinos through boots on the ground but also through being a role model in their communities. These women work to the concept of the “Broken Window” philosophy and strive to make their area of influence the “most undesirable, most difficult and least profitable place to poach”.
Recently we asked two of the rangers, Shipwe and Collett, about their jobs…
FFR: Why did you join the Black Mambas?
Collett: Seeing rhinos being killed each and everyday, it helped my heart to make a decision that enough is enough with the killing. I joined the Mambas to stop the killing.
Shipwe: I joined to help make a difference in saving and protecting our rhinos.
FFR: What is the toughest part of being a Black Mamba?
Collett: Seeing a dead rhino carcass in front of me makes my heart bleed and it disturbs me a lot.
Shipwe: Knowing that we are dealing with dangerous people. I mean poachers you don’t know where you’ll find them out there in the field, but we know how to handle it.
FFR: What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?
Collett: Doing road blocks, searching cars that are going out of the reserves for unpermitted things.
FFR: Do you feel you’re treated differently than men in APUs?
Collett: No, they treat me as an APU, not as a man or a woman.
Shipwe: No, I feel treated very well. It seems we are the first females to be in this field.
FFR: What have you learned since joining the Mambas that you didn’t know before?
Collett: How to do a bush walk.
Shipwe: I have learned how to interact with animals of all kinds because I work with them almost everyday.
FFR: What can your community do to best support you?
Collett: Stop coming from the reserve and poaching, because these people are coming from our communities.
Shipwe: By organizing meetings so that I can go and teach them, young and old people, about saving our nature and reserves.
FFR: You are an inspiration to your community, as well as to girls who may not have thought of being in a APU before. What would you say to girls or women who are thinking of doing the same job?
Collett: To do this job is not simple, so they need to be in love with animals and have a mind-set of wanting to protect our rhinos more than to think about money or other stuff.
Shipwe: I can say to them they need to have a big heart to do it, because it requires all your energy, your ability to think and the courage to do it.
The Black Mambas have identified and destroyed over 12 poachers’ camps and 3 bush meat kitchens within the “buffer-zone” as well as reduced snaring and poisoning activities by 76% within their area of operation since their deployment in 2013.