Joni Hartman, Living Collections Curator, oversees the Kansas City Zoo’s support of the Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Initiative. This all-female anti-poaching unit is based out of Balule Nature Reserve in the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa. They conduct snare sweeps, road blocks and round the clock patrols, to help reduce poaching of rhinoceros as well as other species found within the reserve.
The Black Mambas also conduct a community school-based conservation education program known as Bush Babies. The Black Mamba Initiative empowers women, in a male dominant culture, by providing employment and financial resources to help them support their families and also instills a sense of pride within them. The Kansas City Zoo is proud to partner with this unique and impactful conservation initiative by supporting the construction of three much needed “pickets” or base camps, where the Black Mambas can seek refuge in the field while still monitoring activity on the reserve. The Zoo has also sent a staff member over to directly assist in the efforts to save rhinoceros by aiding in fence patrols and the Bush Babies program.