Night is falling over the Balule reserve, in the Kruger Park. For its wild occupants, this is not good news: in the bush, with darkness comes danger. Especially when you are a rhino. There, indeed, for more than 15 years now, the last rhinos of Africa struggle to survive, trying to escape from poachers. The fight is cruel and intense: in 2010, 333 rhinos were killed for their horn in the Kruger; in 2012, 668; in 2016, more than 1,000. Since 2013, however, the animals are not alone anymore. Their guardian angels watch. Thirty-two young women live there, among them in the bush, to protect their lives. Far away from their families, patrolling nights and days and sleeping in camps with basic comfort, these women fight to preserve this invaluable natural heritage, and to encourage the next generations to take care of it.
They are the “Black Mambas”: the first all-female anti-poaching unit in South Africa.
Text and synopsis: Benjamin Leclercq
[Published in Paris Match, may 2019]