24 June 2008
If everyone gets their act together in the area, it could see a mega Community Conservation Area being established, ultimately linking Tembe Elephant Park with smaller community reserves such as Tshanini and Bekula.
Eventually these will all fall within the Transfrontier Park linking South Africa with Swaziland and Mozambique.
During a visit to the Usuthu Gorge this week, the Sunday Tribune found bedrock enthusiasm, and communities working together to make their dream come true.
The project manager, Amon Sithole, who is employed by the Wildlands Conservation Trust, which is working with communities in this regard, was sick.
But Samuel Mdlalose, a member of the Mathenjwa community, the owners of the Usuthu Gorge CCA, who guides tourists to the area, was able to explain the community's thinking.
Further evidence of this close co-operation between communities, was the project manager for the Tshanini CCA, Amos Tembe (also a Wildlands Conservation Trust employee).
Tembe said he sees his task as facilitating communal contact, helping iron out problems but, at the same time, ensuring that no community feels another is imposing its will on them. He is certainly enthusiastic.
The same applies to Mdlalose, whose pride was evident as he told how they were even influencing people on the Mozambique side of the river. "Many people regularly use the road which passes through our area to come shopping in Ndumo," said Mdlalose. "At first they were angry, thinking we would not let them use the road any more. But we explained that we would never interfere in community matters of others. We would still allow them to use the road, as this was a community issue, but wanted them to understand that the fences going up were because we were now involved in conservation."
Members of the community are already being trained as field rangers, learning conservation management skills such as dealing with soil erosion, tracking poachers and identifying plants, birds and trees.
Tembe explained that another neighbouring community had initially been reluctant to form part of the Mathenjwa people's drive to link with the state-owned Ndumo Game Reserve.
Having seen how the Mathenjwas were taking charge of their own affairs, and were not having things forced on them, they too had indicated they were ready to come on board, said Tembe.
This could mean realigning some of the fences.
Which brought us to the issue of the fence, which the Mathenjwa people having been erecting along their western border - prior to the dropping of the fences with Ndumo.
Members of KZN Heritage had spoken with awe of this fence, and on seeing it for ourselves we had been impressed by the amount of work that had gone into its erection.
Fully expecting to see a fence crossing a plain, we were amazed to see that it marched 40km, much of it up and down steep hills, and through dense vegetation.
Clearly this had been no mean feat, especially as it had been completed within just six months.
Roelie Kloppers, the Project Co-ordinator for the Lubombo Tranfrontier Conservation Area, said they had had an incredible working relationship with the Mathenjwa people, especially since their land claim had been settled.
"Things have come together so well, we hope to drop the fence with Ndumo in November," he said.
SEVERAL interesting projects are taking place in Tembe Elephant Park.
A researcher, Oscar Osberg, who is monitoring lion and elephant in the park, said elephant exclosure was being practised.
"This means elephant are being excluded from a small section of the sand forest, to monitor how the forest rehabilitates itself in their absence," said Osberg.
A project involving the tiny suni antelope is planned, and there is ongoing research into geomorphology - looking at the interaction between Earth's soils and the impact of plants and animals.
24th June 2008Sunday Tribune - 8 June 2008
Sunday Tribune - 8 June 2008Myrtle Ryan
9 January 2017 Conscious Conservation
Without fanfare, a conservation success story is unfolding just over the border in southern Mozambique. If you are a lover of wild places, this may just be the best kept secret in southern Africa.read more
2 January 2017Where Wildness Lives
Imagine one hundred kilometres of deserted beach, seeing both elephants and whales in a single glance, and spotting endangered leatherback and loggerhead turtles silently nesting under cover of night.read more
28 November 2016Further training to protect turtles
From 25-26 November, Centro Terra Viva presented a refresher training course for the 46 turtle monitors who cover the area from Ponta do Ouro to Ponta Mucombo in Mozambique. The training comprised botread more
15 November 2016Restocking national parks as part of transfrontier conservation development
A further 573 animals have been translocated to Maputo Special Reserve and 310 to Zinave National Park.read more
8 November 2016Wildlife thriving in Maputo Special Reserve, Mozambique
At the end of September, the Maputo Special Reserve/Tembe Elephant Park management committee conducted an aerial census to determine the status of the large herbivore species in Maputo Special Reserveread more
17 August 2016Protecting turtles in Africa's marine TFCA
Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve had another successful turtle monitoring season this year. The reserve comprises the Mozambican component of the Ponta do Ouro-Kosi Bay TFCA, Africa's first cross-read more
21 March 2016Cross-border cooperation saves marine life
Thanks to the excellent cross-border cooperation between the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve in Mozambique and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park in South Africa, a gill net measuring 20 x 3 metres waread more
16 February 2016Protecting turtles and marine life
The turtle monitoring season is in full swing in the Ponta do Ouro Partial Marine Reserve, the Mozambican component of the Ponta do Ouro-Kosi Bay TFCA, Africa's first cross-border marine reserve, in tread more
13 May 2015A transfrontier conservation success story: first phase of wildlife translocations concluded
This month will see the conclusion of the first phase of wildlife translocations to Mozambique’s Maputo Special Reserve with the introduction of 98 zebra and 117 blue wildebeest.read more
13 January 2015Wildlife populations increasing steadily
In 2010 the Mozambican government began a translocation programme to Maputo Special Reserve in order to re-introduce species that were historically found in the area and to develop a tourism product.read more