Animals such as lions and elephants often cross the boundaries of the Kruger National Park (KNP) into the bordering communities and cause damage to crops or kill livestock. According to Phin Nobela of the KNP conservation services, rangers of KNP are not allowed to shoot these animals, as they will be breaking the law.
Any person shooting such an animal must have a permit issued by the department of environmental affairs of the relevant province, as well as permission from the landowner of the said property. Sometimes animals like lion move from the park and back on the same night, making it very difficult to control. It is therefore inevitable that incidents will occur.
But who is responsible for the losses incurred by the owners of livestock or crops, not to mention the possible loss of human life. On December 3, 2009 the Hlanganani Forum met with various stakeholders, including members of the KNP and the department of environmental affairs to address the issue of damage causing animals in the Punda Maria area bordering Kruger.
Presentations were given by Sam Makhubele (LEDET Directive on Damage Causing Animals), Phin Nobela (Handling of Damage Causing Animals by Kruger National Park), Helen Mmethi (Alleviation of socio-economic pressures resulting from DCA) and Adv. P. Monyepao who gave guidelines on the compensation for damages.
The Hlanganani Forum tabled a document with matters that should be included in the norms and standards of DCA. These include compensation to farmers and a criteria of who qualifies for such compensation. They also proposed that a compensation fund must be established and guidelines be drawn up as to who and how this fund must be managed.
The Hlanganani Forum is a very active group and meet with KNP officials on a monthly basis to address any relevant issues. The section ranger of Shangoni, Marius Renke, also sits in on these meetings and is instrumental in assisting them, especially with matters around DCAs. When the animals are outside the KNP it is the task of conservation officials from the department of environmental affairs to take relevant action.
Most of the people affected are subsistent farmers and losing cattle at between R5000 and R9000 a head makes a significant dent in their income. The forum raised this issue as far back as 1993 and now wants to meet with the Limpopo MEC.
By Pieter Strauss