The extraordinary work of South Africa’s mostly-female Black Mambas Anti-Poaching Unit has been honored by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) with its highest prize – the Champions of the Earth Award. The unit patrol the Balule Private Game Reserve – an area of the 7,523 square mile Greater Kruger National Park – for three weeks at a time, walking almost 13 miles per day in their quest to protect wildlife from poachers. The Mambas are said to know the terrain so well that even a stone out of place alerts them to poacher activity. Since its creation in 2013, the unit has arrested six poachers, shut down five poacher camps and reduced snaring (animal baiting and trapping) by 76 percent in the reserve. “The Black Mambas are an inspiration not only locally, but across the world to all those working to eliminate the scourge of the illegal wildlife trade,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
Read the full story at TIME.