Land beneficiaries as game farmers in the "new" South Africa : land reform in relation to conservation, the hunting industry and chiefly authority in KwaZulu-Natal
Ngubane, Mnqobi Mthandeni
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In South Africa, as in other parts of the continent and beyond; land claims on nature conservation land have in many cases become part and parcel of Community-Based Conservation (CBC) and related discourses such as Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM). This thesis investigates key socio-spatial and political dynamics involved in the acquisition of private game farms by land reform beneficiaries. This acquisition of private game farms by land reform beneficiaries has in many cases given rise to the so called community game farms/reserves. The two community game farms/reserves studied here are the Ngome Community Game Reserve and Nqabayamaswazi Game Farm in KwaZulu-Natal. The two community game farms are managed by community trusts in partnership with the KZN Hunting and Conservation Association (KZNHCA), a private partner which has in return gained hunting rights on the community game farms. From a scientific wildlife management context, the role of KZNHCA in community game farms is based on a need to transfer „expert‟ wildlife management skills to land beneficiaries. In the process, KZNHCA seeks to align community game farms with their previous status as private game farms in terms of economic benefit and wildlife conservation. But, is it realistic to expect that community game farms will resume their old form, from a time when they were managed as family businesses, holiday homes and leisure havens? The thesis explores the processes involved in the continuation of game farming by land beneficiaries and the extent to which community game farming was „imposed‟ on beneficiary communities by their representatives, namely: community trusts, chiefs and the former DLA for continuities in land use and „wildlife production‟- after the land transfer. The role of chiefs in community game farming is explained by paying close attention to their vanguard roles in land reform, leading to an increase of land under their control. Land beneficiary perceptions‟ towards this role of chiefs raises important questions of democracy in the countryside against provisions of the Communal Property Association (CPA) Act partly designed to curtail the power of chiefs on land acquired through land reform.