Traveller24.com | Kruger threatens to re-erect game fences over private reserves’ poor governance

Traveller24.com | Kruger threatens to re-erect game fences over private reserves’ poor governance

(Photo: iStock)

A quantity of the private reserves in the more Kruger National Park seem to be violating the protocols and regulations that permitted them to drop fences with Kruger and hunt animals that cross over from the national park.

As a complete result Kruger is threatening to re-erect the fence.

One of the reserves, Umbabat, has been flagged by Kruger officials because of its questionable commitment to neighborhood involvement and empowerment and its own contribution to community development programmes, as required by the 2018 Greater KNP Hunting Protocol.

It states that “Professional (commercial) hunting is conducted in these areas [the APNR] with the goals of providing the income to donate to the management of the surroundings […] also to support social initiatives of community development according to Reserve specific programmes.” 

At Umbabat Private Nature Reserve, however, hunting continues, undeterred by allegations of illegal hunting practices, poor governance no trace of community or conservation involvement.

Support for local communities as central to trophy hunting is really a stated dependence on the large US Safari Club International. It needs that hunting should “generate necessary revenue for conservation, donate to national economies and local communities, and create occupations in rural areas”.

SANParks notes on the Umbabat 2018 take-off requirement that it is unclear the way the income generated by commercial hunting in the reserve is managed and that it is “also not yet determined towards which conservation, management and socio-economic activities the revenue generated has been directed.” 

In Timbavati, hunting continues despite “non-compliance in relation to certain trophy hunting reporting and classes, according to Protocol requirements”.

In recent hunts, two elephants shot on Timbavati exceeded the utmost tusk weight allowed. The reserve didn’t submit the ages of 11 previously-hunted elephants also, as required by the Hunting Protocol, &ldquo apparently;due to rodents eating the tags mounted on the jaw bones”.

Two lions were hunted on the reserve without notifying Kruger rangers also, as required.

At the recent 2018 African Ranger Awards, Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa reiterated SANParks’ mission of ‘A sustainable National Parks System, Connecting Society’, stating that South Africa’s “natural capital isn’t an engineering marvel just, but a driver of socio-economic development [with the] objective to provide communities over the continent a genuine, tangible stake in wildlife management”.

This sentiment isn’t happening as required by a few of Kruger&rsquo clearly;s neighbours.

Zero governance, zero consequence

SANParks requires that “it’s the responsibility of the issuing authority to monitor compliance with all regulations and legislative requirements”.

According to Mpumalanga Tourism and Park Agency (MTPA) senior communications manager Kholofelo Nkambule, the APNRs’ commitment to conservation and community development doesn’t affect how and when hunting permits are issued. He insists “it isn’t a particular requirement with regards to the relevant legislation”. 

Nkambule says the Hunting Protocols “are from SANParks, not the MTPA” rather than binding on what hunting is conducted under their jurisdiction therefore.   

Despite an obvious mandate to oversee APNR compliance with the protocols, SANParks seems unwilling to police transgressions, citing the permit-issuing authorities LEDET (Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism Limpopo) and MTPA because the regulators of APNRs’ hunting practices.

SANParks insist that its only power would be to ‘recommend’ best practice. “We’ve no authority, but you can find protocols and guiding principles set up with the APNRs because the dropping of the fence,” says SANParks’ Ike Phaahla.

The APNR organisation apparently avoids enforcing the Hunting Protocol also. In accordance with outgoing chair Rob Garmany, “APNR isn’t an authority and cannot comment, purport or act to represent some of its members. ” He says the APNR committee is really a a voluntary association merely.

According to Phaala, “If any protocols have already been broken and there’s evidential proof, MTPA and LEDET are obligated to research and make their findings public.” 

MTPA, however, is not very forthcoming with info on their hunting regulations, as seen with the probable killing of Skye. It took an investigative journalist Don Pinnock, with a secret source, to reveal Graham Sales because the outfitter accompanying American hunter Jared Whitworth on the hunt, with permission from the MTPA’s head of professional hunting Riaan de Lange.  Permission to see your skin to see if the &lsquo have been shot by them;wrong’ lion has been denied by De Lange.

It’s clear that Sales and the MTPA have a detailed relationship. Sales’ latest hunting brochure boasts; “Graham Sales Safaris is proud to announce that people have already been awarded the exclusive hunting rights by MTPA for 2018, 2019 and 2020 on South Africa’s largest Provincial Nature Reserves. No hunting occurred on both Reserves for an interval of 6 years – 2011 till 2016.”

Notable with this hunting brochure may be the advertisement for a male leopard hunt. The pet have been earmarked for hunting a long time before the DEA’s recent announcement to suspend the two-year-long national moratorium on leopard hunting in SA.

The continual permitting offences are putting pressure on SANParks. When probed on the recent Kruger lion hunt, KNP managing executive Glenn Phillips said that “If Umbabat doesn’t straighten out their governance issues, KNP shall re-erect the fence.”