Nature conservation in changing socio-political conditions at Londolozi Private Game Reserve

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Worldwide, nature conservation paradigms have changed markedly since the turn of the 19th century. These changes have affected the way that conservation has been practiced in the eastern lowveld of South Africa. At the same time sociopolitical conditions in South Africa have also undergone enormous shifts which have affected the distribution of rural people and land use practices in the rural lowveld. This study examines private nature conservation and its relationship to local rural people in the lowveld using Londolozi Private Game Reserve as a case study. Various methods of data collection were used. These included focus group interviews with local rural people, a survey questionnaire with lodge staff, informal interviews with land owners, and visits to rural homes and schools. In addition the author drew on eight years of work and research experience on private game reserves in and around the study area. The application of fortress conservation in the lowveld resulted in the removal of black people from Crown and privately owned land, land that they were living on. They were removed to the western borders of the current Sabi Sand Wildtuin (SSW). This complete exclusion of local people from the conservation land in the Kruger National Park (KNP) and SSW remained the status quo until Londolozi, in 1976 and almost at least a decade before the rest of the conservation world began to engage with local black people on its borders. Londolozi paid particular attention to the rural staff working at the lodge. In the 1990's fortress conservation was replaced with community conservation approaches which sought to use market-based strategies to demonstrate the value of conservation to rural people bordering conservation areas. Londolozi retracted from its essentially bottom-up approach and implemented a number of infrastructural, management devised, top-down community projects in the local areas. It did this through the Conservation Corporation Africa (CC Africa) Rural Investment Fund. These projects, although more obvious to the wider community outside the reserve, were inefficient and wasted money in some cases. In 2007, Londolozi returned to focussing on individual rural staff members rather than on infrastructural community development projects. The effect has been very positive for the 200 or so rural staff at Londolozi, but the wider community outside the fences sees little benefit or point to this approach. The community lodged a number of land claims on the SSW and Londolozi. The merits of the only gazetted claim on Londolozi would seem to be tenuous at best.

Includes bibliographical references (leaves 89-98).