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Walking the Beat

How An Unarmed Group Of Women Fight Poachers In Africa


The Black Mambas are South Africa's bobbies on the beatan all female anti poaching unit that patrols the fences of Balule Game Reserve in Northern South Africa. 

Started by Craig Spencer, the all-female unit walks the fences of the park every day looking for signs of poachers. Their mere presence also serves as a detractor for poachers to take their chances killing rhinos or elephants in the reserve. 

The women of the Black Mambas come from the surrounding communities. They already know the area well and become ambassadors for protecting animals to their friends and families. They start their training at an old school training ground complete with obstacle courses and giant tires. Once they make it through training, they are assigned a base camp and scheduled for patrols.  

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. They were recently awarded the UN Champion of the Earth award for outstanding courage in fighting the illegal wildlife trade at the community level. 

Client: Discovery
Drone Pilot: Jaco Bester
Videographer: Morgana Wingard
Location: Limpopo, South Africa