21st Century Wildlife Guardians
Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit, South Africa's first every all female APU
In 2010 due diligence began regarding a new approach to poaching on the landscape due to alarming increases in rhino poaching since 2007. It was agreed the traditional strategy of “boots on the ground” would not be sufficient from either a proactive or reactive perspective; no where in Africa has the concept of ‘force’ worked effectively in the long run. Our discovery concluded that in order to address the global issue of wildlife crime in the narrow context of the Balule Nature Reserve, the solution/response needed to be multi-faceted. What was necessary was a new way of addressing the perceptions of the people in indigenous communities, where poachers are often recruited from, toward embracing natural resource heritage and stewardship. We agreed that it would be imperative for a successful anti-poaching campaign to focus efforts on the notion of developing a new environmental ethos of ‘the people’ that would foster a new since of ‘environmental patriotism’ toward their natural resources and natural heritage. The people are and always will be the front line in defense of wildlife and wildlife habitat.
Over the last several years we have worked to secure appropriate funding levels and administration of anti-poaching efforts in a world where donors have become ‘fatigued’ and political actors divided over priorities. These two variables coupled with a decline in poaching incursions during the pandemic lead us to reevaluate the best course of action we can take to save endangered species from extinction given limited the resources we enjoy. We are very proud of the accomplishments that have been made by our collective efforts which could not have been done without the generosity of individuals that continue to believe in our mission and ability to achieve it.
The pandemic has hit the global conservation ‘industry’ very hard with a two year decline in ecotourism revenues. Rhino Mercy is no exception. During the pandemic resources that would have normally been used for vehicle repairs had to be redirected to providing food parcels for families in desperate need of basic sustenance. Our theory was that by providing food to select families in our surrounding communities, we might deter bushmeat poaching which was in fact a problem our Black Mamba’s had to deal with. Over the last two years of the pandemic our rangers found increasing numbers of snares throughout the landscape and saved the lives of many animals.
Like Rhino Mercy and our partner Transfrontier Africa, the global pandemic has forced the South African government to also make difficult choices in how it allocates limited resources. In February of 2022, we were notified that the basic salary subsidy provided by the Department of Environmental Affairs was to be terminated effective April 1st 2022. While the subsidy is a small portion of the overall cost of operating the Black Mamba program, it is not insignificant.
URGENT NEED: Rhino Mercy and Transfrontier Africa are developing a ‘sponsorship’ approach to providing the basic salaries for the Black Mambas. The opportunity will be posted below as a downloadable document as soon as it finalized. In the meantime, please consider continuing to support our mission by using the donate button on the left. Every little bit helps and is used very wisely….please also see our financial policy statement on the ‘Please Donate’ page of this website.