KZN community sets up game reserve

26 August 2013

Farming the Wild, a community-driven project backed to the tune of R22-million by the government’s Green Fund, aims to transform lives in rural Somkhanda in KwaZulu-Natal through the establishment of a community game reserve.

Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa launched the project in uPhongolo local municipality in KwaZulu-Natal on Friday.

Managed by the Development Bank of Southern Africa, the Green Fund provides finance to facilitate investment in greening initiatives.

The Department of Environmental Affairs said the Somkhanda Community Game Reserve represented a green economy solution suitable for the rural areas across the country.

Transforming rural communities

“The sustainable use and conservation of wild animal and indigenous vegetation resources have the ability to … transform the poor rural economy of South Africa.”

The land on which the game reserve was founded was restored to the community of Somkhanda through the land reform process in 2005. The community decided to place the majority of the land under conservation and create a game reserve to drive development in the area.

The Somkhanda community has formed partnerships with the Wildlands Conservation Trust and the World Wildlife Fund to guide them in establishing the reserve.

Through this partnership, various skills development projects have been introduced to members of the community.

Introducing endangered black rhino

The Somkhanda game reserve is a participant in the Black Rhino Range Expansion Programme, which is introducing endangered black rhino to the reserve.

Some of the game already purchased includes buffalo, impala and zebra.

“Revenue can be generated from hunting, live game sales, game products and ecotourism,” the department said.

“The project will create approximately 80 jobs. Thus far, 28 permanent and 15 temporary jobs have been created.”

The project will be implemented by the Wildlands Conservation Trust, who will coordinate all financial expenditure of the project.

‘Sustainable development path’

On Friday, Molewa also launched the South African Green Economy Modelling (SAGEM) Report, which explores the question of whether equal or higher growth could be achieved with a more sustainable, equitable and resilient economy.

“South Africa views a green economy as a sustainable development path that is based on addressing the interdependence between economic growth, social protection and natural ecosystems,” the department said.

“The SAGEM was therefore developed to explore the transition to a green economy for South Africa, with special attention for its ability to meet low carbon growth, resource efficiency and pro-job development targets.”

The transition to a green economy in South Africa is linked to many policies, strategies and plans, including the National Development Plan, the New Growth Path, the National Climate Change Response Policy and the Industrial Policy Action Plan.

The SAGEM report is closely aligned to these policies and plans. It seeks to present a modelling process and test the national targets and the effects of investing in a green economy in South Africa.

The department and its stakeholders have committed to continuing initiatives that will simulate green economy investments.

The department said it will regularly update the SAGEM report, as and when new relevant policies and scenarios arose.