Group has been shortlisted for an International Institute for Peace Through Tourism award, Lee Hayhurst reports

A South African anti-poaching group will discuss the importance of biodiversity and sustainability in travel at this week’s African Resilience Summit in Johannesburg.

The Black Mamba group was established in 2013 to focus on conservation of the rhinoceros population in a 56,000 hectare area adjacent to the Kruger National Park called Balule.

It has successfully tackled poaching by developing local partnerships with communities and trying to instil a sense of patriotism about wildlife parks and their value to South Africa.

A keynote session at the summit will feature the work of the Black Mambas, which has been shortlisted for an International Institute for Peace Through Tourism (IIPTT) award.

The awards will honour outstanding achievements in tourism resilience in South Africa and the continent of Africa.

Gongs will be given out in the following four categories: Resilient Tourism Community Award; Resilient Tourism Business Award; Change Maker in Tourism Award, and

Resilience Efforts Through Cultural Diversity or Environmental Sensitivity Award.

The Black Mamba group’s Bush Babies conservation project has seen it adopt 13 primary schools which have dedicated Mamba classrooms.

A total of 1,300 pupils are involved every week in special lessons and Black Mamba parades to help them learn about the environment.

The group has also recently started a Bush Grannies education programme for senior citizens and community leaders.

It said it’s aim is to forge “a unique approach” to dealing with the problem of poaching, a problem that “certainly will not be won with guns and bullets alone”.

“What is needed is a relationship with the local communities where values can be exchanged and fostered.”

The Black Mamba group claims to have eradicated snaring and poaching for bush meat in Balule by reducing poachers’ ability to operates in the region.

It claims it has been able to win tribal buy-in, a recent survey showing that neighbouring communities respect the nature reserve.

And other petty crimes like burglaries, and theft at lodges in the reserve has also been reduced as people have come to value what it bring to the local economy.

The Resilience Summit keynote will discuss the importance of education and working with local communities and building partnerships to bridge opposing views about the value of the environment and species diversity.

The Resilience Council will take place during the African Tourism Association’s 42nd World Tourism Conference on July 24.

The African Resilience Summit, organised by the Global Travel and Tourism Resilience Council in partnership, will focus on key challenges for the 54 countries of the continent in differentiating themselves from the misconception of “Africa as a country”.

The Summit will highlight the importance of preparedness and planning for sustainability as well as addressing current challenges.

MoreThe African Resilience Summit is taking place during the 42nd World Tourism Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa on July 24th, 2019