Chic African Culture Blog

Female game rangers on the dangerous poaching front lines

Women game rangers to the rescue of animals. Illegally taking animals from the wild threatens many species with extinction, poaching in Africa is a major issue.

Female game rangers on the dangerous poaching front lines
Training of female game rangers

Female game rangers on the front lines stopping poaching in Africa

Poachers sometimes kill or capture animals to sell them locally or for the global trade in wildlife. Wildlife trading is a major black market that has increased as food, jewelry, decor, or traditional medicine. Poaching has devastating consequences for wildlife. In some instances, it is the primary reason why an animal faces a risk of extinction.

The beautiful but deadly serious Black Mamba anti-poaching unit is a South African ranger group consisting mostly of women, brave women. Since it was first created in 2013, the 26 member unit has arrested six poachers, shut down five poacher camps, and reduced snaring by 76 percent in the Balule Private Game Reserve.

July 31st of each year is World Ranger Day to honor those rangers all over the world who have died in the course of their duties but also those who risk their lives every day at the forefront of conservation. Unfortunately being employed, as an anti-poaching game ranger is a very dangerous job, between 2009 and 2017, 740 rangers have died in the line of duty.

“Their many successes are a result of their impressive courage and determination to make a difference in their community. The Black Mambas are an inspiration not only locally, but across the world to all those working to eliminate the scourge of the illegal wildlife trade.” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

The area that they protect, the Balule Private Game Reserve is home to an abundance of wildlife including not only rhino but leopards, lions, elephants, cheetahs, and hippos. It is part of the Greater Kruger National Park, a network of over 2 million hectares of protected areas that are home to thousands of birds, impalas, giraffes, wildebeest, buffalos, antelopes, hyenas, crocodiles, fish and zebras.

Protecting the rhino is vital in South Africa, where 1,215 rhinos were killed in 2014 alone. This is an increase of over 12,000 percent since 2004 and symptomatic of a devastating epidemic that has pushed the rhino closer to the edge of extinction. The Black Mambas are an inspiration not only locally, but across the world to all those working to eliminate the scourge of the illegal wildlife trade.

Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit located in Hoedspruit, South Africa objective is to strive to create a strong bond and educate communities that live on the boundaries of Balule Nature Reserve and the Greater Kruger Park to the benefits of saving their natural heritage.

Serious girl power, the Black Mambas anti-poaching unit is a South African ranger group.
Serious woman power, the Black Mambas anti-poaching unit is a South African ranger group.
Stopping poachers is particularly vital in South Africa, where 1,215 endangered rhinos were killed in 2014. Rhinoceros horns are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars on the international black market. The Balule has an open border with the world-famous Kruger National Park which has been plagued by poachers.

Leitah Mkhabela, a member of the Black Mamba rangers, said: “I am not afraid, I know what I am doing and I know why I am doing it. If you see the poachers, you tell them not to try, tell them we are here and it is they who are in danger. Animals deserve to live; they have a right to live. Do your part. When demand ends, the killing will end. Say yes to life. Say no to illegal rhino horn and elephant ivory.”

The Black Mamba’s awarded by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) were honored with its highest environmental prize, Champions of the Earth Award.

Poachers are becoming increasingly sophisticated to bring down wild creatures and have access to heavy weaponry, while often state-supported rangers lack basic equipment, even boots, and socks, while working in treacherous conditions. Poaching has been linked to armed militia groups in Africa suspected of trafficking ivory to fund their operations.

International agreements, such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), seek to reduce poaching incentives by regulating worldwide commercial trade in wild animal and plant species.

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Being African in America I have grown up learning about different ethnic cultures. My father and mother are historians of African culture and history and their influence expanded my activities to several best-selling cookbooks, magazine columns, self-branded products, and a popular African culture and food blog.

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