Land ownership and the new South Africa
The Kruger Park has become somewhat of a poster child for the issues affecting present day South Africa. In the past many communities were moved off land that was earmarked for incorporation into the national park – and today many of the communities are laying claim to this land.
There was a time when almost half the area of the Kruger was the subject to land claims. Some of these have been settled but many have been dismissed, with some still outstanding. Easily the most famous of the claims was by the Makhuleke community in the far north of the park who were the first people in South Africa to get their land back in the new dispensation.
Kruger – the new ideals
Besides the land claims there are other issues that have come to the fore with regards Kruger. Much to the horror of Kruger old-timers the present management plans for the park include much development, including large hotels inside the park and further licences for tourism operators.
Long thought to be the preserve of the privileged the Kruger is now the subject of intense debate as to what it should represent in the new dispensation in the country. The calls for it to remain as it is are been drowned out by the shouts to have it re-aligned to fit into a country that is wanting to provide for all, and in particular the previously disadvantaged who never benefitted in the past.
So what of the future for Kruger
The Kruger Park will remain the topic of debate for many years to come but it is hoped that it does not become a political and social football where damage is done to its reputation and its environment.
There is a real danger that consensus is not reached on the best management practises for the park and that the environment and tourism will suffer as a result.
By Leigh Kemp