Black Mambas #2

Today started early at 5.45am. I felt excited about what the day had in store – Black Mamba picket inspections.

Meeting the majority of the Black Mambas was a hugely exciting prospect but slightly daunting too.

I accompanied C to four pickets where the Black Mambas reside. Each picket, far from the other, and each one very remote. When we arrived at the first picket, the mambas were out on their daily morning patrol. One remained at the picket, heavily pregnant, telling us she was going home for the birth in a couple of days. We went to J’s home for a coffee whilst we waited for their return. J is ex-military and has lived in his remote home for 43 years. He is also the sergeant of one group of  mambas. As we walked into his home, it was the ultimate bachelor pad with guns, ammunition and gadgets everywhere. I had just laid eyes on the big black gun on the table when suddenly a very loud gun shot was heard. My heart leapt out of my chest, ‘what the hell was that’ I thought and then ‘Shit, did someone just get shot?!!’.

J calmly says “Oh yeah, that’s my booby trap to keep out unwanted visitors’ as M tried to open the patio doors! We all laughed. What else did he have rigged up! J was enthusiastic, some may say intensely passionate, about sharing his stories and knowledge of the area and the poaching situation. J has worked with the mambas for over four years and has taught them well, with a military style at times I’m sure, making them the best they can be.

After the enlightening cup of tea, we headed back to the picket to meet the mambas. They were friendly and greeted me with a hug.

We inspected their picket which as neat as a pin, ate avocado with them, chatted and laughed together.

The pregnant mamba wanted to have the baby at the picket with her mamba family and this made me appreciate the level of comaraderie these women feel amongst each other; the trust, the support and the safety they feel when they are a team together. One of my firm goals of this trip is to try and scratch the surface of what drives and motivates these women to be black mambas and what is their back stories that have led them here.