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[VIDEO] Fearless Group Decreases Poaching By 76%

Sep 14, 2015 03:00 PM EDT
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Injured bull elephant treated by Zimbabwe conservationists

An anti-poaching group who call themselves the Black Mambas has decreased hunting in South Africa's Balule Private Game Reserve by 76 percent. The group of mainly women patrols for poachers in the preserve, and they were recently awarded the United Nations' Champions of the Earth prize for their conservation efforts and bravery.

The black mamba is Africa's largest poisonous snake. 

"Community-led initiatives are crucial to combating the illegal wildlife trade and the Black Mambas highlight the importance and effectiveness of local knowledge and commitment," Achim Steiner, the UNEP Executive Director, said in a news release. "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 Black Mambas group was created in 2013. Its 26 members have helped arrest six poachers, close five poachers' camps and two bush meat kitchens, and removed over 1,000 snares, according to the release.

The Balule Private Game Reserve is home to a wide variety of species, and is part of Kruger National Park. Among the many protected animals is the rhino, which is close to extinction. According to the release, over 1,215 rhinos were killed in South Africa in 2014 alone. This is a significant increase since 2004.

"With every rhino saved, the Black Mambas demonstrate that action on a local level is critical to achieving global sustainability and equity," Steiner said in the release.

"I am not afraid, I know what I am doing and I know why I am doing it," Leitah Mkhabela, a member of the Black Mamba rangers, added, according to the release. "If you see the poachers you tell them not to try, tell them we are here and it is they who are in danger."

A video highlighting the Black Mambas' conservation efforts can be seen online

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