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Feb 1, 2019

Why the Mambas are Effective

Children change the world
Children change the world

We have been analyzing and interpreting the data that we collected for the Mambas over the last month, and have some new happy news to report. First, however, we wanted to thank you all for your continued support of the Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit in South Africa, as all of the money that has been sent along since that time frame has been given directly to them! You are helping to change conservation in Africa in this way!

As long-time donors to this program know, we have been assessing the social impact of the Mamba program on the women who participate, on the people working in support of them, and on the communities where the Mambas live. We are still analyzing the data at present, but our initial results are exceptionally interesting, if a bit disappointing with respect to our main hypothesis.

We had hoped to find that the Mambas have changed their communities with respect to poaching, but that has not been borne out. There were a few interviewees that have been influenced by the Mambas, but over 90% of the 120 people interviewed didn’t even know of the Mambas when asked. Based on follow-up discussions with the Mambas, most do not feel comfortable talking about what they do in their home communities. It is not surprising then, that they are not making the social changes that we had hoped.

That all said, something that was a big surprise for all of us is that nearly all of the people who reported having heard of the Mambas were from one community. Nearly all of the people who live in the Maseke community seemed to not only know the Mambas, but most also said that they were influenced by them to be more supportive of conservation and to strongly condemn poaching. The reason that Maseke was so different from the other three communities we interviewed: children’s education! The Bush Babies Environmental Education program is not only run by a Mamba, but many patrolling Mambas come in full uniform to the classrooms to speak with the children. These children are so impressed, that they go home, tell their parents, and share the message. It was these parents who are most affected by the Mambas. Education can make conservation happen, particularly education of children who can then influence their parents!

Nonetheless, conservation and rural communities can clearly be a match made in heaven. It was clear that people in the communities looked to conservation for jobs, which people shared with us, even when it wasn’t particularly germane to the question. In areas like here where unemployment is over 50%, conservation jobs lead to increased support for conservation.

Another reason for positivity about conservation is that 98% of people interviewed categorically rejected the idea of hunting animals on the reserves, either for money or for food. Most felt deep pride that “our nature” was being preserved and that people were interested in coming so far to see the animals. And, of course, for the jobs.

We interviewed the Transfrontier Africa staff who support the Mamba program. We found that the staff are incredibly proud of the education and outreach work of the Mambas. However, all wanted to improve the early detection and enforcement efforts against poachers on the grounds. To a person, the staff of TA are acutely proud of how the women have transformed as individuals and as environmental leaders.

With respect to the Mambas themselves, our initial results clearly indicate that the program has fundamentally transformed how the Mambas view themselves, as well as what they think women can do for the better. The Mambas are typically the breadwinners in their households. They are the educators and conservation advocates, and they are becoming community leaders. These transformations will eventually change local cultures, even if our surveys revealed that they have not yet. These are Wonder Women come to life.

I am so proud that we are collectively working to support the Mambas. What we are doing will help the Mamba project expand to other locations. If we are able to help establish a chain of Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Units across Africa, it would be a crowning achievement in my several decades of conservation work. Please stay tuned, as we work with our collaborators to make this a reality!

Women really can change the world, and we are going to help them do that in Africa.

Our intrepid interview team
Our intrepid interview team
Nov 20, 2018

Rolling Along - With the Finish Line Looming!

Rhino Art by Jeff Harrison
Rhino Art by Jeff Harrison

Hello All!

I’m glad to report that I’m on track for hitting 5400-5500 miles by the end of January. And the Pedaling Against Poaching Strava club has amazingly logged more than 100,000 miles year to date!

We were very happy to be able to transfer $3500 USD to the Zululand Orphanage in August, and we have more donations to send their way from our “orphan support October” campaign.

T shirt sales have been steady, with all proceeds becoming a donation through GlobalGiving.

My number of followers on instagram and Facebook has been growing steadily, and organically. We now have more than 3100 instagram followers.

I’ve definitely learned a lot over the past year, and I’m planning on taking what I’ve learned to make 2019 even better!

Rhino Art by Jeff Harrison
Rhino Art by Jeff Harrison
The Steed!
The Steed!
The Steed and The Carrier!
The Steed and The Carrier!
Nov 12, 2018

Help Us Help Them

Kids Rock!
Kids Rock!

Greetings all,

We are writing to ask for your help in connecting us with middle school teachers!

Thanks for your support of our education program designed to reduce the demand for rhino horn in the third greatest consumer of rhino horn - the United States. Is this as surprising to you as it is to us? We talk with people all over the country on a regular basis, and nearly everyone is surprised at this.

However, we are a wonderfully pluralistic country, with people from all over the world. The many immigrants who come add immensely to our country in many ways, but unfortunately some are also believers in the use of rhino horn for medical purposes. Even though there is no medically viable basis for the claims, a few subscribers to Traditional Asian Medicine continue to demand the horn.

This is why we are working in communities with great numbers of Asian immigrants to work with their children. As you'll undoubtedly agree, children are hugely influential of the opinions, and more importantly, the actions of their parents. Building empathy among children and empowering them to influence their families as well as their larger communities is a core part of addressing the main motivator for why rhinos are being killed for their horn.

This is where YOU come in! Are you an educator? Do you have family who are teachers? Are any of your friends helping to shape the next generation of citizens? We’d really love you to either engage with our rhino-focused interdisciplinary curriculum designed for middle school and high school students yourself if you are a teacher. OR, if you have family or friends who are teachers, please encourage them to reach out to us!

Reply to this email and let us know that you would like to join Team Rhino and help cause a crash in the demand for rhino horn.

Yours in Loving Rhinos,

James

P.S. Did you get the bad pun in the last sentence? A group of rhino are called a crash!

 
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