Latest Kruger Conservation Efforts
Community development has always been a priority on the Kruger National Park's to-do list, and these Corporate Social Investment (CSI) contributions have not slacked in recent years. In 2013, a school situated on the border of the park was chosen as the first beneficiary of the park's CSI commitments. Focusing on uplifting poorer communities by enhancing their socio-economic situations, the park decided to start a 5-year programme that will provide the school with new facilities and equipment, such as a library, science laboratories, as well as a computer lab. The Kruger National Park Managing Executive, Abe Sibiya, explained the park's plans on behalf of SANParks. "The programme forms part of the KNP's broader strategy of economic empowerment and social responsibility programmes which focuses on communities around the Parks," said Sibiya.
South African National Parks (SANParks) and the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) had worked collaboratively on community conservation projects since 2000, before signing an official agreement in 2005. AWF's strength was illustrated in their work with local communities, as they aim to uplift local communities by conserving the existing wildlife, which is the ultimate purpose of SANParks.
Making it Official
SANParks and the AWF signed a Memorandum of Agreement in Skukuza, Kruger National Park on Thursday, 18 August 2005. The agreement, which was signed by the KNP's Acting Executive Director Mr Blake Schraader and the AWF's Limpopo Heartland Programme Director Dr Simon Munthali, lays the foundation for further co-operation, especially regarding efforts to improve the livelihood of the communities living around the Kruger National Park.
"It certainly seems as if SANParks and the AWF have a lot in common and it is only natural for the two organisations to pool their respective resources so that efforts to develop the communities living on the borders of the Kruger National Park can be fine-tuned so that they really make a difference," Mr Schraader said. Specific objectives of the agreement include the creation of awareness of potential economic opportunities, the establishment of community institutions such as community development forums, capacity building of community members and co-operation on a number of other initiatives.
Both parties agreed on their respective responsibilities in conservation, development and co-operation. Included in this agreement is an arrangement that an AWF officer, Mr Patrick Chauke, is based in Skukuza to coordinate the AWF's contribution to the various People and Conservation projects that are initiated in terms of the agreement. The agreement will remain in force for the next five years and can be renewed for another five years, if both parties agree.
More about SANParks and the AWF
SANParks was established to ensure the conservation of wildlife and biodiversity of South Africa, to uplift and empower local communities, as well as to encourage various research programmes. The organization has become an essential part of the country's ecotourism sector, influencing both interactional and domestic tourism markets through effective management. The organisation also plays a vital role in assessing the biodiversity of the national parks, and implementing guidelines for conservation.
The African Wildlife Foundation was established in 1969. In 1999, the AWF began its African Heartlands Programme, ‘an innovative, science-based, landscape level approach to conservation that includes both conservation and development goals.' The AWF Heartlands total more than 396 000 km˛ and are located in eastern, central and southern Africa.
The Limpopo Heartland encompasses the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park (GLTP) and adjacent areas in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, totaling 95 624 km˛. Each Heartland is made up of protected and unprotected land, and includes land owned by the relevant governments, communities and private land owners.
Intervention strategies undertaken by the AWF include ‘improved land and habitat conservation, support for conservation business ventures, undertaking applied research and species conservation, support for training and capacity building, and, where necessary, policy and legislation work', says Helen Gochohi, in the AWF newsletter, January to April 2005.