Yesterday evening in the Dornoch Social Club, over 70 people heard about some inspirational work being done by the 36 young women of the Black Mambas anti-poaching unit in South Africa.
The area that they protect is the Balule Private Game Reserve which is home to an many large mammals such as rhino, leopards, lions, elephants, cheetahs and hippos. It’ i’s part of the Greater Kruger National Park, over 2 million hectares of protected areas that’s home to an abundance of birds, impalas, giraffes, wildebeest, buffalos, antelopes, hyenas, crocodiles, fish and zebras.
The unit consists of 36 women, who operate unarmed, as Belinda says “we believe that rhinos shouldn’t be killed, but neither should people“. They point out that there is evidence that going unarmed leads to de-escalation and essentially makes their work safer. They do however have pepper spray which they have found to be very effective in apprehending poachers.
The Mambas are the first line of defence and provide early detection of poaching via the daily patrols. Rhino poachers operate using several methods and the unit has created interventions to help combat them. But it’s not just about stopping the poachers, the unit also operates the Bush Babies Programme at a number of schools around the National Park. In this programme they teach children about wildlife and the environment and how it needs to be protected and through this help to counteract other, exploitative narratives. The programme also helps to present them as role models in their communities.
These women work in and around their communities assisting in whatever ways are necessary. For instance they help to provide food for people in their communities that are struggling, so that they don’t have to resort to peaching just to put food on the table. All in all these women work to improve the lives of all in their communities and take a holistic approach to everything they do. In a very real sense they are the change that they want to see and inspired everyone who attended.
The enthusiastic audience asked some very insightful questions, before enjoying shortbread and tea/coffee. They also did a little to help, by raising somewhere of the order of £500 through donations and a raffle.
By the way, although “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” is often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. That isn’t actually what he said (however true it might be). What Gandhi actually said is:
“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.”Mahatma Gandhi
These courageous young women are demonstrating that “as they change their own nature, so does the attitude of those around them change (including the poachers)“.