Monday, August 17, 2015

AFRICA - The Black Mambas

"All-women team goes on the hunt for poachers in South Africa" PBS NewsHour 8/11/2015


SUMMARY:  Named for the most feared snake in Africa, the Black Mambas are a specially trained all-female anti-poaching team.  Day and night, they sweep through a South African game reserve, protecting rhinos and other endangered species and looking for any signs of poachers.  Special correspondent Martin Seemungal reports.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  But, first, the high-profile killing of Cecil the lion by an American dentist in Zimbabwe recently has put the spotlight back on big game hunting and poaching in Africa.

Today, Zimbabwe lifted the ban on lion, leopard and elephant hunting, which it imposed after the killing and worldwide attention which followed.

Tonight, we take a look at efforts to stop illegal poaching in neighboring South Africa, with a one-of-a-kind group which is fighting to protect endangered species.

NewsHour special correspondent Martin Seemungal has our story.

MARTIN SEEMUNGAL (NewsHour):  They take their name from the most feared snake in Africa.  The Black Mambas are a specially trained all-women anti-poaching unit, protecting rhinos and other endangered species.

FELICIA MOHAKANE, Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit:  I wanted to protect the rhinos.


FELICIA MOHAKANE:  Because I heard a lot about people, those who are killing rhinos.  So I just had an interest that I must have and work here and — and protect those rhinos.


They’re critical eyes and ears on the ground, patrolling the perimeter fences, looking for any signs of poacher incursions.  They walk 20 miles, often longer, during the day, and they work at night, a loud, very visible display that they are still watching after dark.

They use a vehicle at night because it is far too dangerous to come out on foot.  But there are still threats.  The wild animals — that’s an elephant they have to back off.  Lions and leopards hunt at night.  Poachers are usually heavily armed.  All of the women admit it wasn’t easy in the beginning.

Siphiwe Sithole is one of the Black Mamba veterans.  She runs the operation center, but spent three years on the beat in the bush.

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