Briefing by DFFE, implementing agencies and tourism/parks boards on the five transfrontier conservation areas; with Deputy Minister

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

17 May 2022
Chairperson: Ms F Muthambi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Video

Awaited documents: Free State govt presentation + Mpumalanga govt presentation 

In a virtual meeting, the Committee was briefed by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DFFE) and related entities on the five Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs), comprising the Kgalagadi, Ai/Ais-Richtersveld, Maloti-Drakensberg, Lubombo and Greater Mapungubwe areas.

The Department gave an overview of the various TFCAs and focused on re-imagining the TFCA framework to put people and nature at the centre of their programmes. The aim was to ensure that people's lives were changed, but the natural resources were also looked after. The objective was to create opportunities that directly benefited the communities in and around the TFCAs. 

The briefings by the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Board, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and SANParks Board focused on their key achievements and challenges. The Committee was also briefed by the Free State Department of Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs and the Mpumalanga Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs. The briefings dealt with the operations and challenges in the Maloti-Drakensberg and Songimvelo-Malolotja TFCAs.

Committee Members asked several questions relating to the socioeconomic development programmes. They asked how many people were employed and benefited from socioeconomic development initiatives.

A Member asked whether South Africa had the necessary resources to take over as the coordinating country of the Kgalagadi, Ai/Ais-Richtersveld and Greater Mapungubwe TFCAs.

Another raised a concern that SANParks had had three acting CEOs since the suspension of the CEO. The Member said this had affected the operations of the organisation and had cost implications. He asked when SANParks expected to finalise the matter.

Meeting report

Opening remarks

The Chairperson said the Committee would be briefed by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) and its implementing agencies on the five transfrontier conservation areas (TFCAs). These were the Kgalagadi, Ai/Ais-Richterveld, Maloti-Drakensberg, Lubombo and Greater Mapungubwe areas. From previous engagements, the Committee had learnt of the benefits of TFCAs. They united communities that had been haphazardly divided by the colonial boundaries and created a culture of peace. The TFCAs were envisaged to promote cross-border conservation and huge socio-economic benefits through nature-based tourism, given that the tourism industry of the African continent was underpinned mainly by wildlife. Although climate change had not featured in the original idea of designating the TFCAs, they had huge conservation potential in the face of the ongoing climate warming.

The management of the TFCAs had not produced the expected results, as seen with the cross-border poaching of South Africa’s iconic biodiversity, such as rhinos and elephants. There appeared to be disparities in the way wildlife was perceived and treated. She recalled that the Deputy Minister had once expressed a concern that it would create a sense of apartheid amongst South Africa’s own hardworking officials if some of these challenges were not addressed expeditiously at the highest level.

Ms Maggie Sotyu, Deputy Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, said that the Committee had raised some serious concerns after the previous briefing on TFCAs. The Department had returned to provide a detailed briefing to the Committee.

Ms Nomfundo Tshabalala, Director-General, (DG), DFFE, said that the Department would give a high-level overview of the various TFCAs.  This would be followed by presentations from the implementing agencies, both at the national and provincial level.

Briefing by the DFFE: Strategic Role of Transfrontier Conservation Areas

Mr Sydney Nkosi, Acting Deputy Director-General (DDG): Biodiversity and Conservation, gave a presentation on the strategic role of the TFCA programme. He reported on the effectiveness of treaties and memorandums of understanding (MOUs) and the re-imagining of the TFCA framework.

Recommendations by a high-level panel had identified the need to look anew at how the conservation estate was managed. The reimagined concept put people and nature at the centre. A number of elements needed to be resolved in order to ensure that people's lives were changed but the natural assets were also looked after. The ecological assets of the re-imagined TFCAs were important, but they needed also to interface with socio-economic development and be properly governed. These transformation imperatives were important to ensure that the chain of domination was broken and that local communities around the TFCAs were mainstreamed through the creation of opportunities and programmes that directly benefited them 

(See slide presentation for details)

iSimangaliso Wetland Park: Transfrontier Conservation Areas  

Mr Sibusiso Bukhosini, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), iSimangaliso Wetland Park, said that the protocol in respect of iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the Lubombo TFCA, working with the Mozambican counterparts, was signed in 2002. There were issues of legislative compatibility with Mozambique. There were also interests which the country had that were contrary to what would make it qualify as a world heritage site.

iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the town of Ponta do Ouro were working towards standardising operational documents to harmonise relations.

From November 2020, South Africa had been assisting Mozambican counterparts with a proposal for nomination as a world heritage site.

(See presentation for detail.)

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

Mr Ntsikelelo Dlulane, Acting CEO, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, gave a presentation on the Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Programme (MDTP) and Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area (LTFCA).

The MDTP had two main objectives. One was conservation and sustainable management and use of the natural and cultural heritage resources of the Drakensberg and Maloti mountains. The other was contributing to economic development of the region through the promotion of nature-based tourism. 

The programme was funded through the World Bank Fund up until 2007. Since then, a major challenge had been the non-contribution of signatories to inter-agency funding for the MDTP. Over the past few years, the coordination and implementation unit had survived on contributions from only three of the parties and on the significant savings from the donor-funded phase. Engagements were underway to resolve the challenge.

The main purpose of the establishment of the LTFCA, situated within the Maputaland Centre of Endemism, was to reunite the last naturally occurring elephant populations of KwaZulu-Natal and Southern Mozambique which historically moved freely across the border along the Futi Corridor and Rio Maputo floodplains.

There were several challenges in implementing the LTFCA: The community beneficiation model was being addressed with the local community in order to reach an agreed solution. There were institutional and financial problems in developing a tourism plan. There was a shortage of funds to conduct a feasibility study. There was a legal challenge to using the Tembe name as the brand for business tourism purposes.  Conservation and agricultural projects required additional funding. Cross-border crime, including poaching and theft of vehicles, was causing tension between member countries.

(See presentation for details.)

Briefing by SANParks: Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs)

Ms Hapiloe Sello, Acting CEO, SANParks, briefed the Committee on the contribution of TFCAs to socioeconomic development, as well as the challenges experienced in the management of TFCAa to which SANParks was a signatory.

• Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Park (MDTP)

 The MDTP had facilitated a number of community-oriented initiatives within the Eastern Cape, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal. Among the challenges was inappropriate road development on the park’s border that South Africa could not control. Another was illegal grazing by Lesotho herders which replaced wildlife and caused exceptional soil degradation in the park. It was almost impossible to prosecute cattle rustlers in Lesotho. Cattle thieves moved cattle through the park across the border into Lesotho.

• Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (GMTFCA)

 The signing of the treaty had been outstanding for some years. The delays were because Botswana had raised objections to the TFCA name change to Mapungubwe. After nine years they had withdrawn their objection. It is envisaged that the treaty would be signed before the end of the year.

There were funding challenges for the GMTFCA coordinator. The Peace Parks Foundation had initially funded the coordination of meetings for the GMTFCA. However, the funds had been depleted. There was no dedicated funder or budget to support meetings for logistical and related matters of the TFCA. That had led to a lack of interest from partner countries.

• Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

SANParks had donated more than 600 head of game for the development of the Khomani San people’s Erin game farm to enable them to generate revenue.

There were challenges with contradictory rules and policies. Each country partner and national park that formed part of the TFCA has its own rules. There was a need for integration. This took time, especially where supporting legislation was needed.

There was over-reliance on South Africa to address issues such as vehicle breakdowns, providing amenities to tourists utilising the Botswana side of Kgalagadi, and access to resources like water.

• Ai/Ais-Richtersveld Transfrontier Park (ARTP)

SANParks had a contractual agreement to pay the Richtersveld Community Trust an annual rental fee of R1.09 per hectare for the 162.445ha as agreed upon in the contractual agreement. With a new agreement, the rental amount will go up to R5/ha. This was identified as an “offset” due to the lack of tourism and wildlife economy. The contractual agreement had ensured that 95 of all permanent employees were appointed from the immediate surrounding communities. The agreement allowed the Richtersveld community to continue practising their historical small stock farming within the boundaries of the proclaimed national park.

All law enforcement was done by SANParks. The Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism provided only minimum support at times. Numerous illegal fishing camps were discovered by patrolling SANParks Rangers within the TFCA. The Dreigat and Gamkab gates in Namibia that controlled access to the TFCA portion of the Park did not deter any illegal activities.

• Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and Conservation Area (GLTFCA)

The signatories were Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe was currently the coordinating country. The TFCA provided an enabling framework for management authorities and partners to implement their socio-economic and conservation programmes.

The state, community and private partners were currently implementing 28 anchor programmes in waste economy projects, green recovery projects, climate change adaptation and mitigation programmes, enterprise development and wildlife economy projects.

(See presentation for details.)

Free State Department of Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs

The Committee was briefed by Mr Dave Hayter, Director: Biodiversity Management and Conservation, Free State Department of Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (DESTEA). He reported on the management, operations and challenges of the Maloti-Drakensberg TFCA.

He told the Committee that DESTEA had been a member of the Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Project (MDTP) since its inception. One of the planned interventions was to declare the area between Golden Gate and the Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve a protected environment to better regulate and protect the area. The protected environment had not yet been declared. The cadastral boundaries within the protected environment footprint could not be utilised to declare the area. Only natural areas could be declared. A proclamation diagram was required. A survey was necessary. A substantial budget would have to be set aside due to the terrain and the fact that a helicopter would be required.

Challenges

• Assignment of the management authority posed an enormous challenge; the district municipality had indicated that they would not have the resources to take full management responsibility. The encroachment of an informal settlement into the footprint was a concern.

• Reducing the fire frequency and the number of livestock also posed major challenges.

• There was no dedicated component within DESTEA to deal with TFCAs, nor were there personnel to whom this intervention could be assigned. The TFCA programme required constant oversight and operation; it could not be run on an ad hoc basis.

• DESTEA had not been able to pay subscriptions to the MDTP due to budget constraints.

• The only entrance into the proposed protected environment site had been washed away beyond the Witsieshoek resort; even those with 4x4 vehicles found it extremely difficult to proceed beyond this point.

• There were security issues. A number of robberies had been reported. Researchers and tourists had been harassed by locals.

• The unlawful hunting of wildlife in the area continued unabated to the point where, other than in the most remote areas, there were virtually no animals remaining.

• The collection of plants and animals for traditional medicine was an extreme challenge and most of the indigenous flora in the area had been severely impacted.

• It was not possible to fence the area for numerous reasons, including cost considerations. It would be an undesirable approach, because it was not intended to exclude local residents and livestock from the area. However, the number of livestock and the access to unlawful activities must be addressed.

Mpumalanga Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs

Ms Busisiwe Shiba, MEC, Mpumalanga Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs (DARDLEA), said that Mpumalanga was one of the provinces with the richest biodiversity. Therefore, it was of critical importance for the province to work together with the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency to ensure that its conservation areas were well managed and provided socioeconomic benefits to local communities through tourism, biodiversity and conservation management activities. The province had noted the negative impact of climate change. and the recent life-threatening disaster in KwaZulu-Natal. Biodiversity conservation served as an intervention in mitigating the climate crisis.

Mr Cain Chunda, Head of Department, DARDLEA, presented an overview of the management of the Songimvelo-Malolotja Transfrontier Conservation Area. 

Challenges included mining developments, management of fires, law enforcement, integrating private and communal land and the lack of an effective marketing strategy.

The TFCA was well established and the institutional arrangements were functioning well. All planning had been concluded and it was now time to unlock the first transboundary tourism activity. The activity would be strictly controlled and closely monitored to ensure all operations adhered to policy and strategies. The proposed transboundary route would beyond doubt solicit 4x4 enthusiasts' interest. Revenue generated on either side of the TFCA could be channelled towards the maintenance of the routes to ensure a high operating standard.

Discussion

Mr N Paulsen (EFF) asked about the contributions from signatories to TFCA agreements and whether they were being monitored. What was being done to ensure that all signatories were held to the agreements to fund the organisations? He asked how the Maloti-Drakensberg TFCA was managed and whether the area was fenced or patrolled. It seemed like a complex situation to manage. How would one know where a country’s responsibility started and ended? How often were meetings of the conservation agencies held and were there records of the meetings? If so, were the minutes available? The Committee needed to know what decisions the signatories were making, because there was the possibility of conflicting laws on nature conservation. He asked about the involvement of the surrounding communities in the TFCAs. What was the impact on employment and alleviation of poverty?

Ms A Weber (DA) referred to three TFCAs - Kgalagadi, Ai/Ais-Richtersveld and Greater Mapungubwe - where South Africa was eventually going to become the coordinating country. She did see how everything was integrated, but she questioned whether South Africa was ready for this. Was there a strategic plan on how South Africa would manage this and did the country have the resources to take over this big responsibility? On what date would South Africa become the coordinating country?

On the socioeconomic development programmes mentioned in the SANParks presentation, she referred to the construction of a Dinosaur Centre and said that this project was supposed to be completed in 2019. At that stage, the cost was R83.5 million. How much more money was spent on this project. The presenter had spoken of a leverage of R120 million. Did this mean that an extra R120 million was spent on this project? Where did this money come from? How long would it take for the Dinosaur Centre to start operating?

On the donation of water tanks to schools, she asked where the water for the tanks came from. Whose responsibility was this and did the water come from boreholes?

On a Golden Gate National Park donation of blesbok and plains zebras, she observed that ten blesbok and three plains zebras were not delivered; did those animals die while being transported? Why were they not delivered? Were these animals replaced and if so, how much did this cost?

She referred to the Lubombo TFCA and a budget of R20 million for 100km of fencing. Was this worth the money? She noted that if there was no fencing, there would be challenges of overgrazing and cattle that were stolen and taken across the borders. She asked why the TFCA had no fencing. She asked what is being done to protect the birds in this specific area, for instance, the bearded vultures and the cape griffon vultures. A windmill had been approved by Lesotho, but the vultures had a habit of flying into windmills. The area where this windmill was put up was where these birds bred, roosted and foraged. How would the birds be protected? Although there was no treaty, there needed to be a consensus with the Lesotho government because South Africa's protected areas were affected.

On the Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Programme, she asked if there was a mitigation plan to address the poaching and overgrazing. She asked what would happen with the donation and sales of wildlife and what projects these funds would be spent on.

Ms C Phillips (DA) said that part of the aim of the TFCAs was to synchronise wildlife management. She asked how this was coming along in Limpopo, because it was the only province that allowed baiting for hunting. She asked what would happen in this regard because Limpopo was out of sync with the other provinces. She asked for the statistics on poaching for each of the TFCA parks, especially the high-level poaching.

She said that she did not see any new information on the Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Programme in comparison to previous presentations. She asked how much of the upgrading of the fence had been completed to date. When had the education programmes started and was this ongoing? She asked about the community fire awareness imbizos which had not proceeded after 2018 and pointed out that the Covid-19 pandemic only occurred at the end of March 2020. She asked when the exchange visits between the Eastern Cape and Lesotho happened, and when the environmental monitors were trained.

On the contributions that had not been paid by the Free State, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, she asked if these had been budgeted for by the provinces or if there were no budgets for these contributions. She asked when the last aerial census had been done and if a list of the game count could be provided. On the community market stalls programme, she asked if there was a timeline for the development of stalls for the selling of local produce. On the law enforcement programme, she asked when the last joint operation had been undertaken. When had the household survey on natural resource use been completed?

On the youth ambassadors’ programme, she asked how many young ambassadors the Lubombo TFCA had. Was the honey project still running? How much honey was produced annually and what was the annual income?  Which of the sponsored programmes were currently in operation? When would the 4x4 trail be finalised? When would the tourism route between the three countries be completed? Of the R20 million budget for the Tembe Community Lodge, R800 000 had been spent; what was it spent on?

She recalled that she had asked about the Sani Pass road the previous year. How many kilometres of the road had been tarred to date and how much money had been spent on this? She asked what was being done to address the problem of overgrazing, because overgrazing also led to soil erosion and silt runoff in the rivers.

She asked what had happened in the Songimvelo-Malolotja Transfrontier Park from 2020 to April 2022. The presentation had referred to a 4-day media 4x4 expedition. When was this event arranged?

Mr P Modise (ANC) said that all of the presentations were interlinked. He asked if all the entities or provinces met to compare notes and coordinate their operations or if this was done independently. He said that the TFCAs fell squarely within the coordination functions of the DFFE and its entities.

The SANParks presentation spoke of socioeconomic development projects, but he had not heard anything specific about the support provided to the communities. The Committee should have been informed of the number of jobs that had been created. What were the programmes that impacted poverty reduction? What were the pragmatic areas that had been resolved? He asked who the 273 animals were donated to. It was important that the Committee be informed about this. He suggested that the presentations should have had more detailed information.

The Committee had been informed that Botswana had raised objections to the TFCA name change to Mapungubwe and then withdrawn the objection after nine years, but the Committee had not been told of the reason. Community-based projects were supposed to create jobs for local communities. How many jobs were created, what type of jobs were created and who were the people employed? How many SMMEs were beneficiaries of these projects?

He had noticed inconsistencies in the SANParks presentations in the past and in the current one. He believed that this was caused by a lack of leadership and decisiveness. The Committee needed to look into the leadership of the SANParks board, the predecessors and the current leadership. There seemed to be a high level of instability in SANParks, with the Kruger National Park and Table Mountain National Park as examples. The Committee had interfaced with three acting CEOs since the CEO of SANParks was suspended. This instability was causing serious paralysis in the operations of SANParks. He asked who would eventually respond to the conditions and operations of SANParks in their entirety. How far was the suspension of the CEO from being finalised? The CEO had been suspended but the CEO was being paid. What were the cost implications? What internal disciplinary processes had SANParks been undertaking that a court had not arrived at? The CEO had been cleared by a court of law but was now undergoing an internal disciplinary process. In his opinion, this was a witch-hunt and they were purging the CEO. It was wrong for a black professional to be purged by people at the helm of SANParks. The Committee should demand a report that detailed when SANParks expected to finalise this matter.

Mr D Bryant (DA) asked if there was a plan to address the substantial amount of alien vegetation in the Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Park which had the potential to cause fire hazards. He said that the Committee had not heard much about the hunting concessions in the Songimvelo-Malolotja TFCA. Who were the individuals that were granted private hunting concessions for trophy hunting? The management plan that was commissioned said that large-scale hunting was precluded due to the open nature of a large part of the area and the high-density game areas. The emphasis should be placed on non-consumptive ecotourism or photo safari tourism, and only limited trophy hunting should be accommodated, with more focus on community hunters. He asked how a community hunter would be defined and whether a private individual would be able to do trophy hunting and also be classed as a community hunter. He asked who benefited from the trophy hunting and if any of this funding went towards the local communities. If so, what proportion went to the local communities?

He asked DESTEA who was responsible for the recapturing of rouge baboons and how it was done. 

Responses

Ms Tshabalala (DFFE DG) said that the DFFE had the responsibility to ensure that it had the required capacity to implement the agreements signed and also to coordinate the various member countries that were signatories to the TFCAs. There were governance structures for the various TFCAs that looked into the coordination as well as the challenges. A key challenge across the TFCAs was law enforcement. It was being addressed at a technical level. It also had to be addressed at a political level. South Africa would need to respect the sovereignty of some countries and allow them to go through the processes of law reform.

In response to Ms Weber’s question, she confirmed that South Africa would definitely be taking over the responsibility of coordinating the TFCAs. It would utilise the limited resources and look into how it could mobilise resources from donor funding and other alternatives. 

In response to Mr Paulsen’s question, she said that the meetings for the management and facilitation of conservation agencies were disturbed during the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, but they had since resumed.

Mr Nkosi said that all of the government structures were in place. The commitments were first discussed at a park management committee level by the people who arranged the day-to-day operations of the parks. If any issues arose they were escalated to the joint management board committees, where the member states participated. All of the minutes and records of the meetings were captured, especially when there was a need to reach consensus on certain laws that were not aligned.

South Africa had been the most active player in the TFCA space. It insisted on the cooperation of the member states in terms of MOUs and treaties that were signed. He reconfirmed that South Africa did have the capacity to take over the coordination of the TFCAs, but with limited resources. The TFCAs that South Africa would coordinate were the Greater Mapungubwe, Kgalagadi and Ai/Ais-Richtersveld. The joint management boards would soon have a meeting to decide on the handover, because South Africa would need to receive progress reports on the work that was done by the coordinating countries.

On the contributions from member states, he said that the economies of the states were not the same and they would indicate that they did not have much budget. This was why resource mobilisation and alternative financing models were being pursued to enable opportunities to attract investors. Any beneficiation that emerged out of these investments was ultimately for the good of the communities around and within the TFCAs.

He said that Botswana’s previous leadership had contested the TFCA name change because it felt that the name “Mapungubwe” was representative only of Zimbabwe and South Africa. After a change in leadership, Botswana was now in agreement.

Ms Sello requested that the questions which related to the number of jobs created, the SMME beneficiaries and the game donations be responded to in writing.

Mr Property Mokoena, SANParks Managing Executive: Parks, said that the Dinosaur Centre was still under construction. It had reached practical completion in terms of the physical structure. The initial tender was for R84 million and there was a budget of R180 million. SANParks were currently working on the internal displays. The Dinosaur Centre was a 100 percent government-funded project. The national Department of Tourism (DT) allocated R120 million for the project. The project was within the R180 million budget and there had been no overspending. This project had created 240 jobs; 90 percent of them were for bricklayers and electricians from the Eastern Free State, and 35 percent of the subcontracting was done in the local area. The delays were due to the Covid-19 pandemic, when the construction could not proceed, as well as unstable soil conditions that were discovered during the foundation stage.

On the water tanks that were delivered to schools, he said that SANParks’s corporate social investment programme would take a percentage of tourism revenue to build laboratories for the communities. When the Covid-19 pandemic occurred, SANParks changed this and assisted communities in terms of what they wanted, such as water tanks and food parcels. The tanks were filled with municipal water. 

About 29km of the Sani Pass road were tarred.

On the wildlife economy, he said that SANParks had donated 900 animals, for which the cost of capturing was R4 million. More recently, SANParks had committed to delivering 3 000 animals, which would cost about R8 million. SANParks were working closely with the DFFE to assist with the funding. The criteria for beneficiaries focused on previously disadvantaged individuals. So far, four female farm owners had benefited. 

When animals were captured, they were monitored for their stability to travel and adaptation to the new area. The discrepancy in the number of animals captured and the number of animals delivered might mean that some of the animals were identified as being too unstable to travel. In some instances, more animals were delivered than planned, particularly when capturing a family unit of animals where the young could not survive by themselves in the veld. SANParks had a well experienced team that did the capturing. The mortality rate was almost zero. 

Ms Pam Yako, Chairperson of, SANParks Board, dealt with the suspension of the CEO. She said that the SANParks board was equally concerned about how long the process was taking and had pressed its lawyers for the matter to be finalised as soon as possible, because it delayed the organisation from moving forward. She assured the Committee that the SANParks board did not have any sinister motive. In terms of the law, there was a process of a criminal matter which was dealt with by the courts and there were matters that related to labour relations. There were internal processes that regulated how all SANPar staff were meant to behave, as well as the disciplinary processes that would follow when this was breached. In this particular case, these processes were invoked at different times and SANParks were still following due processes in terms of its obligation under labour law.

The SANParks board would submit a written response on the cost implications, which would include the legal costs and the cost of paying the acting CEOs. The matter was almost finalised. There had been a finding of aggravating factors with regards to sanction. The SANParks board would get a recommendation from an independent chair. It wanted a comprehensive view on this matter and decided not to engage on the substance of the matter, but to ensure that the processes were fair and in line with the disciplinary code. The processes were taking longer than expected but were not being prolonged unnecessarily, because there were implications on the functioning of the organisation.

Mr Bukhosini (iSimangaliso) referred to the coordination of TFCAs by the DFFE and its entities. There were engagements, but there were also different prevailing circumstances. For instance the Kgalagadi beneficiation model might not be the same as that for Mapungubwe. iSimangaliso Wetland Park Board had had three meetings with Swaziland, which was the current coordinating country. There had been fewer meetings since the Covid-19 pandemic and with the current political unrest in Swaziland.

Mr Dlulane (Ezemvelo) said that the DFFE did allocate R20 million for fencing at the Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Park, mainly on the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park side. Of the R20 million, R1.75 million had already been spent, which is not necessarily reflective of the progress. The fencing was 45 percent complete. One of the contractors appointed for the Royal Natal National Park declined the appointment in the final stages of handing over the site, due to an improper quotation on the terrain. There were 157 Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) employees assisting in the erection of the fences.

Funds from the sale of wildlife were reinvested in the parks and the operations that sourced the game, to ensure that the funds went back to where the animals came from. He said that the exchange programmes were funded by the German Agency for International Cooperation between 2017 and 2019. It then came to an end. The last joint aerial census was done in 2021 and the statistics would be provided in writing. It was agreed that the joint aerial census would be done bi-annually. 

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife did initially receive a site for market stalls from the local municipality. However, there was a challenge when the Department of Transport and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure embarked on developments around that particular area. There was a need to refer back to the local municipality and request an alternative site. The site had been located and the designs were ready.

The funds spent on the Tembe Community Lodge were for the planning, in terms of looking at the site and the feasibility of its development. The planning had not yet been finalised but as soon as the hydrology report was finalised, the environmental impact assessment would be concluded and the implementation could proceed.

The honey project was done in partnership with the Peace Foundation. There were currently 100 hives across three areas. Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife was looking into the feasibility of expanding this project to the greater communities. There were currently no statistics on the honey project, but in terms of the vegetable production community programme, the annual turnover for chilli sales was approximately R110 000.

There were not enough resources to entirely deal with the threat of the alien vegetation in the Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Park. However, a budget of R8.3 million was allocated to clear 21 000 hectares in that area and there were continuous efforts to deal with the most critical areas.

Five children from five schools and three teachers were involved in the youth ambassadors’ programme.

Mr Hayter (Free State) said that DESTEA had no operational budget available for its Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Park subscription. There had been budget constraints for many years. On the recapturing of rogue baboons, he said that, fortunately, the baboons kept to the high grounds in the Drakensberg mountains. It was very seldom that they would venture downwards. He had personally never received any complaints of human/baboon conflict, but if the baboons did venture downward to feed on the foothills, they were hunted by people guiding packs of dogs. The baboons tended to stay in isolated, out-of-reach areas of the mountains.

Not much had formally been done to address the alien vegetation in the Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Park. At some point, there was informal clearing of the alien vegetation, specifically wattles. However, the wattles grew on steep slopes, so clearing the area created a problem in itself because of the erosion.

He reiterated that there was no dedicated component within the DESTEA to deal with TFCAs nor were there personnel to whom this intervention could be assigned. DESTEA did participate and attend meetings whenever it could. One of the big constraints was that DESTEA had to get permission from the Premier’s office to attend meetings held in Lesotho.

Mr Chunda (Mpumalanga) said that trophy hunting concessions were awarded through an open tender. They were for professional hunters in selected nature reserves. Graham Sales Safaris was appointed for the 2019/20 to 2020/21 financial year. All categories of people who qualified as professional hunters bid for this opportunity. Trophy hunting was done under the supervision of nature reserve management.

He said that the dropping of boundary fences was to facilitate the free movement of wildlife across borders and within the nature reserves, without putting communities at risk. 

The Chairperson said that the Committee would continue to engage on these matters. Due to the time constraints, she would submit her questions in writing.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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