Black Mam­bas strike rhino poach­ers

The Star Early Edition - - JUNE IS ENVIRONMENT MONTH -

TO pro­tect the rhino from poach­ing, the De­part­ment Of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs ini­ti­ated the Na­tional En­vi­ron­men­tal Mon­i­tor­ing Pro­gramme (NEMP) in 2012. The first group of 24 en­vi­ron­men­tal mon­i­tors were de­ployed at the pri­vately owned re­serve Sabi Sands, which bor­ders the Kruger Na­tional Park.

The pro­gramme has since grown from a se­cu­rity driven ap­proach to en­vi­ron­men­tal man­age­ment, in re­sponse to many chal­lenges ex­pe­ri­enced on pro­tected ar­eas through­out the coun­try.

Since in­cep­tion over 2 000 en­vi­ron­men­tal mon­i­tors have par­tic­i­pated in the pro­gramme fo­cus­ing on pa­trols, en­vi­ron­men­tal mon­i­tor­ing and ed­u­ca­tion.

One of the most well-known en­vi­ron­men­tal mon­i­tor­ing group is the Black Mam­bas Anti-Poach­ing Unit, an all-fe­male team of en­vi­ron­men­tal mon­i­tors based at Balule Pri­vate Na­ture Re­serve.

It has at­tracted at­ten­tion from all over the world with over 2 bil­lion hits since win­ning the United Na­tions En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gramme: Champions of the Earth.

In­di­vid­ual En­vi­ron­men­tal Mon­i­tors have also won ac­co­lades within con­ser­va­tion and the cur­rent Ranger of the Year in South Africa, An­ton Mz­imba is part of the pro­gramme.

The De­part­ment pro­vides monthly wages/stipends to all en­vi­ron­men­tal mon­i­tors and the host in­sti­tu­tions cov­ers all op­er­a­tional costs, amongst oth­ers train­ing, ac­com­mo­da­tion, and per­sonal pro­tec­tive equip­ment.

Thirty-two host in­sti­tu­tions, of which seven are public en­ti­ties and 25 pri­vate re­serves/in­sti­tu­tions, are cur­rently ben­e­fit­ing from the pro­gramme.

Be­tween 2013 and 2016, the pro­gramme re­ceived sev­eral na­tional and in­ter­na­tional awards in recog­ni­tion of the work done by en­vi­ron­men­tal mon­i­tors in their dif­fer­ent fields of op­er­a­tion. These awards in­cluded the fol­low­ing: Best EPWP Kamoso Na­tional Pro­gramme, Best Rhino Con­ser­va­tion, Best Bio­di­ver­sity Spe­cial Pro­gramme and United Na­tions En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gramme: Champions of the Earth.

In 2015, South African Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion (SABC) flighted a 16 episode se­ries, named Code Green, which brought in all en­vi­ron­men­tal mon­i­tors from KwaZulu-Natal known as Rhino Am­bas­sadors.

The se­ries was such a suc­cess and as a re­sult SABC has now ap­proved a 26-episode se­ries as a fol­low up, which will be flighted be­tween July and Novem­ber 2017.

Dur­ing the 2016 Con­fer­ence of Par­ties of the Con­ven­tion on In­ter­na­tional Trade in En­dan­gered Species (CITES COP17), hosted by South Africa, the pro­gramme at­tracted in­ter­est from in­ter­na­tional au­di­ences par­tic­u­larly from the SADC Re­gion.

The pro­gramme con­tin­ues to at­tract in­ter­est from both the public and pri­vate sec­tor of South Africa, based on its unique­ness within the Ex­panded Public Works Pro­gramme and its im­pact within the bio­di­ver­sity and con­ser­va­tion man­age­ment space.

The De­part­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs is proud to im­ple­ment such an im­pact­ful pro­gramme.

Min­is­ter of En­vi­ron­men­tal Af­fairs, Edna Molewa with Feli­cia Mok­gakane, 28 and Co­let Ngobeni, 31, who are part of the Black Mam­bas team.

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