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Responsible Travel

Meet the Black Mambas

Meet the Black Mambas

The Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit is the first all-female anti-poaching unit in South Africa. Founded in 2013, the unit consists of 36 women who operate, unarmed, in Balule Nature Reserve – a 50,000-hectare private concession in the Greater Kruger National Park.

As well as being mothers and breadwinners, these queens of the jungle have become heroines within their communities.

Let’s meet some of Mambas who have been around since the beginning:

Leitah Mkhabela

The Black Mambas Supervisor

Leitah started her career as the Black Mamba in 2014. Hard work in the field, personal and leadership qualities eventually led to her appointment as the Black Mambas’ Supervisor. Her responsibilities include running the Operations Room, daily administration work for the Black Mambas, educating local communities that are adjacent to the Game Reserve about protecting and conserving natural resources. On a regular basis Leitah hosts national and international groups from Lodges and presents the Black Mambas project to them to raise awareness. As the Media Officer, Leitah engages with media teams and press representatives during briefing meetings, and filming on sites. In 2020 Leitah received a Ranger of the Year award by The International Paradise Foundation, China.

Collet Ngobeni

Supervisor and Administrative Assistant

Collet joined The Black Mambas project in 2013. She undertook the paramilitary training for rangers and in 2017 was appointed as a Black Mambas’ Supervisor. Together with Leitah, Collet works at Ops room where she tracks the rangers in real time and collects the field data from them. On a regular basis Collet hosts national and international groups from Lodges and presents the Black Mambas project to them to raise awareness. 

Photo credit | Julia Gunther

Nkateko Mzimba

Sergeant

Sergeant Nkateko was deployed as the Black Mamba ranger in 2014. She undertook paramilitary training with other rangers, and due to her initiative, persistence and commitment to work eventually was appointed as Sergeant and Media Liaison. Together with Craig Spencer, Sergeant Nkateko represented The Black Mambas at the IWT conference in Johannesburg in 2020. Currently Sergeant Nkateko Mzimba is deployed in the North of Balule Nature Reserve. In 2021 Nkateko was recognised as a Highly Commended Ranger by IUCN.

Cute Mhlongo

Sergeant

Sergeant Cute started working as a Black Mamba ranger in 2014. She undertook various courses and gained experience to eventually become Sergeant, and also Media Liaison. Sergeant Cute represented the Black Mambas at the International Climate Symposium in Belgium in 2020. Currently Sergeant Cute Mhlongo is deployed in the North of Balule Nature Reserve.

Photo credit | Julia Gunther

Belinda Mzimba

Sergeant

Sergeant Belinda started her career in the Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit in 2014. She was trained to become a Field Ranger at South African Wildlife College to complement her Black Mambas APU training. In course of her deployment, Sergeant Belinda undertook additional training to upgrade her skills and advance her knowledge about the bush and was trained as Media Liaison and K9 handler. In 2019 she travelled to Johannesburg to represent The Unit at the International Tourism Conference, and in 2020 represented the Unit in Belgium at the International Climate Symposium. Currently Sergeant Belinda Mzimba is deployed in the North of Balule Nature Reserve.

Felicia Mogakane

Sergeant, Operation Centre Manager

Felicia started working in Balule Nature Reserve in 2013 as a Black Mamba ranger. As part of her training, she undertook different courses to apply her knowledge in the Bush as a ranger as well as working with media representatives. Due to her commitment and hard work, Felicia eventually was appointed as a Sergeant and Media Liaison. Felicia hosts international groups and presents the Black Mambas project nationally and internationally raising awareness about the poaching issue and the way the Unit tackles it. In 2015 Sergeant Felicia was one of the rangers who received a UN award on behalf of The Black Mambas.

Photo credit | Julia Gunther

Nocry Mzimba

Sergeant

Sergeant Nocry was recruited as a Black Mamba ranger in 2013. Apart from security training that she undertook with other rangers, Nocry took a short course in Philosophy and Ethics of Conservation for Wildlife in 2016. After a series of paramilitary courses and exams she was appointed as Sergeant and a Media Liaison. To advance her skills further Nocry was K9 certified (level 1 and 3). Nocry had worked as a K9 handler at Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre for a few years. Currently she is deployed in Olifants West Nature reserve.

Goodness Mhlanga

Sergeant

Sergeant Goodness Mhlanga was deployed as the Black Mamba ranger in 2014 after she had undertaken a specialized paramilitary training together with other recruits. Apart from that, Sergeant Goodness was trained as Media Liaison and represented The Black Mambas in the USA.

Photo credit | Julia Gunther

Yenzekile Mathebula

Sergeant

Sergeant Yenzekile Mathebula was deployed as The Black Mamba ranger in 2014 after she had undertaken a specialized para-military training. For the last three years Sergeant Yenzekile has been appointed as a K9 handler at Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre where together with our K9 Mambas she protects animals that are to be released back to the wild.

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For each trip booked with Ker & Downey® Africa, you will have the opportunity to donate $100 or more to the Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit. Start planning your responsible safari today.