Black Mambas strike rhino poachers
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.