Joni Hartman, Animal Care Curator, oversees the Kansas City Zoo and Aquarium’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, roadblocks 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 and Aquarium 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 the rhinoceros by aiding in fence patrols and the Bush Babies program.