Here's How These Bad*ss Female Rangers Are Kicking Poachers' Butts And Taking Names

They also just won the UN's top environmental prize.

Meet South Africa's Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit, a 26-member ranger group that consists mostly of women.


Since it was founded in 2013, the Black Mambas have racked up an impressive list of achievements. 

The group has shut down five poacher camps and two bush meat kitchens, arrested six poachers, reduced snaring (baiting and trapping animals) by a staggering 76 percent and removed more than 1,000 snares.

Just recently, the UN honored Black Mamba with its top environmental accolade, the Champions of the Earth award.

"Community-led initiatives are crucial to combatting the illegal wildlife trade and the Black Mambas highlight the importance and effectiveness of local knowledge and commitment," UN Environmental Program (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner said in a statement.

"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."

The area under their protection is the Balule Private Game Reserve, home to a diverse wildlife that includes rhinos, leopards, lions, elephants, cheetahs and hippos.

Black Mamba rangers patrol the reserve for three weeks at a time, walking close to 20 km (12 miles) each day. TIME reports that the rangers are so familiar with the land that a single misplaced stone is enough to warn them of the presence of poachers.

The fight against poaching is important in South Africa. Last year, more than 1,200 endangered rhinos were killed.

Protecting wildlife from ruthless poachers is a difficult, dangerous job, but these women (and men) are fearless.

"I am not afraid," one of the Black Mambas, Leitah Mkhabela, 22, said. "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."

Cover image via Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit/Facebook


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