Female anti-poaching unit in South Africa gets UN award

AP News
Posted: Sep 28, 2015 10:07 AM

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A mostly female anti-poaching unit from South Africa has won a top environmental award at the United Nations.

Dressed in boots and camouflage uniforms, two members of the Black Mamba group received the U.N. accolade on behalf of their unit in New York on Sunday. They were among several individuals and organizations that were given the Champions of the Earth prize.

The Black Mamba group, which comprises 23 women and three men, was founded in 2013 and operates in South Africa's Balule nature reserve, which shares an unfenced border with Kruger National Park, a frequent target of poachers who kill rhinos for their horns. South Africa, home to most of the world's rhinos, reported that a record 1,215 rhinos were poached in 2014.

The Black Mamba unit has helped arrest six poachers and removed more than 1,000 snares that were laid to trap wild animals, according to the United Nations. A U.N. statement said they walk up to 12.5 miles (20 kilometers) a day, checking fences and looking for poacher trails and camps in their potentially dangerous work. The unit also approaches poor communities surrounding the reserve, seeking to discourage people from being recruited to work for poacher networks.