Dale Rio

Photographer
The Black Mambas APU
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Nationality: American
Biography: I am a photographer who has been shooting and printing my own work for nearly thirty years.  I received an MFA in photography from Pratt Institiute in 1996 and a Fulbright Travel Grant and the Miguel Vinciguerra Grant in 1997.  Since... MORE
Public Story
The Black Mambas APU
Copyright Dale Rio 2023
Date of Work Nov 2019 - Nov 2019
Updated Dec 2019
Topics Animals, Black and White, Conservation, Documentary, Editorial, Environment, Essays, Feminism, Film, Landscape, Leadership, Photography, Photojournalism, Portraiture, Travel, Womens Rights
In November, I traveled to South Africa to create portraits of members of the Black Mambas all-female anti-poaching unit.  Through their work as anti-poaching rangers, they not only serve to prevent the extinction of endangered wildlife, but they strengthen local communities through outreach and educational programming.  In the interviews I conducted with the Mambas, virtually all discussed how difficult their training was, but that they were stronger for it; being anti-poaching rangers has given them the confidence to do anything they put their minds to, and they have become role models in their communities.  They have also proven that women can do a job once thought to be under the sole purview of men.  Not only that, but they feel that being female allows them an increased level of empathy for the animals they work to protect.

In addition to creating portraits, I was able to join the Mambas on patrol and at their Bush Babies educational program.  The photographs in this story will introduce you to the Black Mambas and provide a glimpse into the lives of these women, who are doing the important, difficult, and often dangerous work of wildlife conservation.
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