It’s been dubbed conservation without borders – linking South Africa`s conservation areas with those in adjoining countries. Myrtle Ryan looks at some of the spin-offs of the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area.
INITIATIVES often acquire more teeth when they are linked across national borders, and the same can be said for the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area.
This giant Transfrontier Conservation Area (TFCA) includes the Usuthu-Tembe-Futi TFCA and Kosi Bay Ponta da Ouro (which link South Africa with Mozambique); the Pongola- Nsubane TFCA (which links South Africa with Swaziland); and the Lubombo Goba Conservancy (which links Swaziland with Mozambique).
Projects are forging ahead and already local communities have seen benefits through job creation and infrastructure.
Dr Roelie Kloppers, a member of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and project co-ordinator for the Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area, listed some of the achievements to date:
IN THE PONGOLA-NSUBANE TFCA:
- Last month saw the opening of new camping facilities for 120 people in new campsites in the Pongola Nature Reserve. This marked the completion of the Pongola Resources Project, implemented by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s Projects Unit over the past three years. It entailed the upgrading of tourism facilities on the South African side of the TFCA; the upgrade of roads and field rangers’ camps; and the removal of alien species.
- Close to R3 million in wages was ploughed into the community, and a further R2.5 million was spent on local small and medium enterprises. Communities also reaped the benefit of accredited training courses on sustainable farming, tourism entrepreneurship, business and project management. Giving some examples, Kloppers said it had been suggested to the subsistence farmers that they grow more than their family’s needs. “We suggested they build up a relationship with the private lodges in the Pongola Game Reserve whereby they could supply them with surplus crops and vegetables,” he said. This was not yet up and running, but it was early days.
- On the Swaziland side, the Royal Jozini Big Six project is due to launch next month. Here the intention is to build several first-class facilities on the banks of the Pongola Dam. A planned 190 plots in the first phase of the project will include mountain, bush and waterfront lodges.
- As a “big five” reserve is planned which will lead into South Africa, this too will have spin-offs for this side of the border.
IN THE USUTHU-TEMBE-FUTI TFCA:
- Ezemvelo staff joined a bilateral biodiversity working group along with their counterparts from Mozambique’s Maputo Special Reserve to form a task team. Staff from Swaziland conservation authorities will soon join the team.
- Four new boreholes have been drilled in the Usuthu Gorge (on the boundary between South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland) by Ezemvelo. Windmills pump water from the boreholes into drinking troughs, which serve wildlife in Ndumo and the neighbouring communities’ cattle.
- The local community laid 40km of fencing.
- 1 729 people were employed in Tembe Elephant Park, Ndumo, Usuthu and Tshanini south of Tembe on various projects, earning more than RIO million between September 2004 and September 2006.
- More than R6 million was also spent on local small and medium enterprises.
The project was viewed as so successful that a delegation from Sudan paid a visit to the Tshanini community to gain insight. It had been a very successful visit, said Kloppers. In due course, details on how local communities were involved in formulating their own business plans and other financial aspects would be forwarded to the Sudanese.
Myrtle Ryan, Sunday Tribune