R22 million wildlife project takes Somkhanda Community to greener pastures

Submitted by: Tholakele Nene, Thursday, September 12, 2013

<p>Minister Edna Molewa from the Department of Environmental Affairs was one of the first to witness the opening of the Somkhanda Community Game Reserve. ( Image Source: Department of Environmental Affairs )</p>

Minister Edna Molewa from the Department of Environmental Affairs was one of the first to witness the opening of the Somkhanda Community Game Reserve. ( Image Source: Department of Environmental Affairs )

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) have launched a green community based project “Farming the wild” in the rural community of Somkhanda at uPhongolo, KwaZulu- Natal. The R22 million project is supported by the Green Fund, aimed at facilitating the investment in greening initiatives, and will see the establishment of the Somkhanda Community Game Reserve.

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

The DEA and its partners have worked together to purchase game such as Buffalo, Impala and Zebra. Capital equipment has also been set in motion through the purchase of tractors, water containers and trailers. Other upgrades include infrastructure development and refurbishment as well as the development of green jobs at the reserve.

Creating green jobs

Speaking on behalf of the DEA Albi Modise, Chief Communications Officer, says there are multiple benefits to the programme including job creation and poverty alleviation as well as climate change benefits.

One of the major social benefits of the game reserve is its contribution to job creation and poverty alleviation in the community where it is found. Revenue at the game reserve can be generated from hunting, live game sales, game products and eco-tourism. The game reserve project will also create approximately 80 jobs (with 28 permanent and 15 temporary jobs having already been created).

Environmentally, the reserve is a benefit in that it promotes the sustainable use and conservation of wild animal and indigenous vegetation resources”, says Modise.

Furthermore, the project is expected to work towards strengthening community conservation and applying climate adaptation and mitigation strategies throughout the game reserve.

A greener future

The game reserve will be built on land that was restored to the community through the Land Reform Process in 2005.

“With regard to this project, it is concentrated within the game reserve. However, the department is of the opinion that lessons learnt from the initiative will inform replication of the project in other suitable areas in the country”, says Modise.

According to the DEA the initiative has potential to be replicated in other parts of the country such as Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape.

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Tholakele Nene