Hunting around Kruger National Park suspended

The Limpopo provincial government has placed a moratorium on hunting in the private nature reserves that border the Kruger National Park (KNP).

The moratorium concerns private reserves that are not separated from the KNP by a fence.

The Limpopo department for economic development, environment and tourism in Limpopo issued a statement on the moratorium on Tuesday.

“Following current conflicts and concerns by stakeholders in the Bohlabela district on hunting activities by private game farmers whose properties border the KNP, our department has decided to suspend all hunting pending a speedy resolve of the conflict,” the Limpopo legislature stated.

The moratorium, which came into effect on Tuesday, applies to the Timbavati, Klaserie, Umbabat and Balule private nature reserves.

According to the statement, the national Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism and South African National Parks (Sanparks) will be mediating to find a solution.

Tom Hancock, chairperson of the Timbavati Association, is concerned about the moratorium.

“We have received a statement this morning and I have not been able to contact the provincial minister or Sanparks on this matter,” Hancock told the Mail & Guardian Online on Wednesday.

“In our opinion, this decision made by the department is totally illegal. The provincial government cannot make unilateral decisions like these.

“We have sold permits for hunting to overseas visitors, and we have clients hunting in the veld as we speak. This decision will have serious financial implications.”

Hancock is also concerned with the effect the moratorium will have on employment and conservation in the private nature reserves.

“The revenue we gain from hunting goes to conservation. If we will have to do without this money, the conservation in the reserve will suffer,” Hancock said.

The hunting debate was started by Bantu Holomisa, leader of the United Democratic Movement, three weeks ago.

He said sources within Timbavati had informed him that protected Kruger game is hunted in these private reserves, because the fence between the KNP and the reserves had been brought down.

“We welcome this moratorium,” Holomisa told the M&G Online on Wednesday. “But we keep emphasising that an independent investigation into this matter is required.”

Holomisa believes Sanparks cannot act as a credible mediator because the lack of a hunting agreement between Sanparks and the private reserves is at the heart of the matter.

“An environment should be created in which the farmers in the reserves will feel free to step forward and reveal their concerns. Once we have the results of an independent investigation, a new policy can be designed,” Holomisa said.

Sanparks was not able to comment on the statement issued by the Limpopo government. CEO David Mabunda told the M&G Online he was not informed about the moratorium.

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