A view from the other side of the fence: Tsonga communities and the Kruger National Park, South Africa.
Abstract: People whose livelihoods chiefly involve the direct exploitation of local natural resources often come into conflict with the institutions of protected areas, which are dedicated to natural resource conservation or preservation. Many scholars and managers now question the traditional top-down approach of excluding local participation and ignoring local interests in protected areas establishment and management. More participatory planning is believed to enhance local support for biodiversity conservation goals of protected areas. It is also believed that sustainable utilization of certain resources and/or protected area outreach programs will contribute to rural development, especially in underdeveloped countries, and decrease conflicts between local people and park authorities. However, efforts in different parts of the world to integrate objectives of biodiversity conservation and rural development have had mixed results. This research highlights some of the challenges to this process in the communal areas of South Africa. This research adopts a mixed methods approach utilizing questionnaires, interviews, the Pebble Distribution Method, and Threat Reduction Assessments. It empirically examines the nature of the relationship, including the perceptions and use of natural resources, between the Kruger National Park (KNP) and rural Tsonga communities located adjacent to its western border. Some of these communities are represented on the Hlanganani Forum, established in 1994 when South Africa became a new democracy. The historical background of these communities, which form part of the former Gazankulu homeland, is characterized by a general dissatisfaction with park authorities due to conflicts with wildlife and perceived loss of access to resources within the KNP. Although the focus here is on interactions between South Africa's KNP and its neighbouring rural communities, the findings have relevance and resonance beyond Africa as they raise key questions that can be considered in similar contexts.
Fundamentally, this research argues that KNP’s success in merging goals of biodiversity conservation and socio-economic development is largely shaped by, and dependent upon, local perceptions of institutions responsible for resource use and access. Specifically for KNP, stronger and more forthright commitment and dedicated investment towards its neighbouring communities is needed. Moreover, to effectively integrate these objectives, KNP and protected areas in similar contexts must:
i) involve a thorough understanding by all stakeholders of the ongoing needs and aspirations of relevant parties, including local perceptions of nature and its conservation;
ii) be supported by strong institutions, and enabling legislation and policies;
iii) meaningfully address immediate concerns including employment, damage-causing animals, and land claims; and
iv) recognize and accept limitations to partnerships, including those concerning public safety and veterinary risks.
Outputs / Publications: PhD dissertation, 5 peer-reviewed articles, 1 book chapter, 4 conference presentations, communities report.
Anthony, B.P., Abonyi, S., Terblanche, P., & Watt, A. 2011. Towards bridging worldviews in biodiversity conservation: exploring the Tsonga concept of ntumbuloko in South Africa. In Research in Biodiversity - Models and Applications. Pavlinov, I.Y. (ed.)., pp. 3-24, Rijeka, Croatia: InTech Publications. Available at http://cdn.intechopen.com/pdfs/21526/InTech-Towards_bridging_worldviews_in_biodiversity_conservation_exploring_the_tsonga_concept_of_ntumbuloko_in_south_africa.pdf
Anthony, B., Scott, P. and Antypas, A. 2010. Sitting on the fence? Policies and practices in managing human-wildlife conflict in Limpopo Province, South Africa. Conservation & Society 8(3): 225-240. Available at http://www.conservationandsociety.org/temp/ConservatSoc83225-6725217_184052.pdf
Anthony, Brandon P. 2008. Use of modified Threat Reduction Assessments to estimate success of conservation measures within and adjacent to Kruger National Park, South Africa. Conservation Biology 22(6): 1497-1505.
Anthony, Brandon. 2007. The dual nature of parks: attitudes of neighbouring communities towards Kruger National Park, South Africa. Environmental Conservation 34(3):236-245.
Anthony, Brandon P. and Bellinger, Edward G. 2007. Use and value of landscapes, flora and fauna by Tsonga communities in the rural areas of Limpopo Province, South Africa. South African Journal of Science 103(3-4):148-154.
Anthony, B. [contributing author] Grant, C.C., Bengis, R. Balfour, D. Peel, M. 2008. Chapter 7: Controlling the distribution of elephants. In: RJ Scholes and KG Mennell (eds) Elephant Management: A Scientific Assessment for South Africa. pp 329-369. Witwatersrand University Press, Johannesburg. [available from http://www.elephantassessment.co.za/]
Anthony, B., Scott, P. and Antypas, A. 2009. Sitting on the fence? Policies and practices in managing human-wildlife conflict in Limpopo Province, South Africa. 2nd European Congress of Conservation Biology: Conservation biology and beyond: from science to practice, 1-5 September 2009, Czech University of Life Sciences, Prague.
Anthony, Brandon P. 2007. Using modified Threat Reduction Assessments to estimate success of conservation measures within and adjacent to Kruger National Park, South Africa. Society for Conservation Biology Annual Meeting, 1-7 July 2007, Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Anthony, Brandon, and Bellinger, Edward G. 2006. Use and value of landscapes, flora and fauna by Tsonga communities in the rural areas of Limpopo Province, South Africa. Paper presented at 4th Annual KNP Science Networking Meeting, 13-17 March 2006, Skukuza, South Africa.
Anthony, Brandon, Bellinger, Edward G. and Scott, Peter. 2005. Dynamics of damage-causing animals and their control along Kruger National Park’s western border. Paper presented at 3rd Annual KNP Science Networking Meeting, 4-8 April 2005, Skukuza, South Africa.