Founded in 2013 by Transfrontier Africa, the Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit was the first indigenous, all-female anti-poaching unit in the world. The lady Mambas were first tasked with protecting the Olifants West Nature Reserve within the Greater Kruger region of South Africa. Within a year of operating in Olifants West, the Mambas were invited to extend their anti-poaching work to defend Gritjie Private Nature Reserve, Ekuthuleni Conservancy, and the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre. The Mambas’ work in these many reserves has yielded verifiably positive results.
Most poaching is driven by the demand for endangered animal body parts by the wildlife trade. The Black Mamba’s priority is to safeguard the endangered and critically endangered animals within the areas they administer; rhinos, elephants, lions, and pangolins are among the creatures benefitting from the Mambas’ expertise and protection; iconic animals who would otherwise be brutally killed for Traditional Chinese Medicine, for useless trinkets, for luxury goods and for wildlife markets.
Equally important is the role the Black Mambas play within their communities; they are role models who successfully amplify the economical, ecological, social, and cultural significance of an ethos that is earth centered.
Despite the significance of their work, the Mambas’ own children and their families rarely experience the wonder of seeing an elephant, a rhino, or a lion in the wild. If African voices are to rise on behalf of Africa’s wild wonder, the cultural and economic distance that separates Africa’s people from the continent’s wild heritage must be dismantled. GMFER aims to bring Africa’s vanishing rainbow, the remains of her wild world, to the children and the families of the Black Mambas’. We hope to learn from the lady Mambas even as we -collectively- strive to create spaces that enrich and amplify the knowledge, experience, and capacity of those voices most critical in cherishing Africa’s ecological legacy.
In collaboration with Transfrontier Africa, and the Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit, GMFER organizes and sponsors monthly campouts with the Mambas and their children at KORU Camp. KORU is situated between the Balule and Klaserie reserves and is part of the Greater Kruger Biosphere; we call our program Mambas in the Park. The 2–3-night campout features multiple workshops centered on conservation and community. Each campout is themed to amplify the uniqueness, vulnerability and ecological significance of a specific species or a phenomenon that has global impact such as climate change or plastic pollution. The Mambas and their children participate in four game-drives, at the dawn and dusk of each day. The children experience an immersive wilderness adventure, gaining a deeper understanding of Africa’s wild world through the workshops, the game-drives and the many conservation-themed wilderness-games. The youthful group has a great deal of fun at KORU Camp. In the near future, we plan to conclude each program by highlighting the value of “wild kindness” centering on rescued dogs; the supplemental workshop will be led by HAART (Helping all Animals in Rural Towns) and hosted at Nourish Eco-Village.
The vision of Mambas in the Park is to establish creative and meaningful ways to disrupt dominant and persistent conservation paradigms that are failing human and animal communities throughout the African continent. These harmful paradigms must be replaced by those less didactic, more experiential, and deeply bound to nature.
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