Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects



Document Type



The Black Mambas are members of a majority-female anti-poaching unit in South Africa that preserves wildlife in the world’s most targeted site for rhinoceros poaching. Despite the Black Mambas’ successes, the organization’s director has expressed concerns of a potential leadership issue in the unit, for which he seeks to identify the source and resolve accordingly. To assist in realizing these efforts, the researchers of this project traveled to South Africa and conducted work analysis interviews with 18 of the 34 members of the Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect qualitative data on participants’ perceptions of cultural and organizational leadership. A comparison used to identify general themes and commonalities in participants’ responses revealed that the Black Mambas are remarkably confident individuals, which opposed initial suspicions based on literature reviews of race and gender. Findings that were consistent with past research on South African leadership primarily pertained to qualities of an effective leader, such as the demonstration of proper communication – prompting ideas for methods to improve the unit’s leadership practices. Other potential approaches include the implementation of more opportunities to be promoted and incentives. Limitations of the current study and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Advisor(s) or Committee Chair

Dr. Anthony Paquin, Dr. Michael Stokes


Leadership Studies | Psychology