One of Africa’s largest game reserves, the Kruger National Park, home to the world’s biggest rhino population has an all women anti-poaching unit called the Black Mambas.
Now comprising 36 young women aged between 19 and 33, the unit was formed in 2013 with the ambition to renew the methods of struggle against traffickers increasingly determined to satisfy the insatiable demand horns from Asian customers.
It’s a male dominated turf, and it is becoming increasingly risky as the poaching scourge grows, one of the ranger Felicia Mogakane says they remain relentless.
“I love this job because these animals must be protected. If we don’t protect the animals, who will volunteer to protect them? And if we think that this job is for men, who is going to do it? Because this job is not for men only. Even us women we are doing it. So people must stop saying that this job is for men because even us women are protecting it,” she said.
They just recently lost rhinos at the hands of armed poachers. They say they feel personally responsible for the killing of the two animals, since they’ve had a good record of protecting them for the past three years.
“We don’t have guns, but we have our eyes to see, our ears to listen, and then if we come across maybe suspicious, maybe tracks of the human beings, we immediately call our armed response to help us while we are tracking that sport,” said another ranger, Collet Ngobeni.
Frustrated by the difficulties of hand, Ngobeni cites lack of resources to the fight against poaching.
The increase is so alarming that it has opened a controversial debate between some countries and wildlife protection NGOs on whether to legalize part of the trade of the horn, to dry up stockpiles