Currently there are a number of communities bordering on the conservation areas on which we monitor threatened species. We are all too often faced with the consequences of the bush meat and indigenous medicine trade, not only on the targeted species (nyala, impala, wildebeest, warthog, vultures etc.) but also the “by-catch” of endangered and threatened species.
Indiscriminate poaching is occurring within the Somkhanda Game Reserve, as well as in the surrounding areas. Poaching by neighbouring communities, who do not feel that they are deriving any clear benefits from the reserve, is still taking place. This is exacerbated by limited employment opportunities in the area and the resulting wide-scale poverty.
The Wildlife ACT Fund put in an application to the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), an initiative run by Conservation International, and was awarded nearly USD 150,000 to kick start a rural Community Conservation Project. We are now implementing comprehensive conservation education programs and researching sustainable land use practices as a source of income and well-being for the community, in order to reduce poaching incidents within protected areas and the ‘by-catch’ of endangered and priority wildlife species.
For each reserve we plan to employ a single community member from the adjacent community to act as the Wildlife ACT Community Conservation Liaison (CCL). The CCL will work closely with the relevant game reserve’s own Community Liaison and other established community conservation projects, to ensure that the individual projects can benefit and complement each other, ultimately improving community conservation developments in this area. Our in-school lessons have started already, with Zama Ncube at the helm, while our Wildlife ACTive Kids Camp is due to start in March 2012!