Kruger National Park communities concerned about the scourge of rhino poaching – study shows
September – In a recent innovative research study conducted by Resource Africa for WWF South Africa (WWF-SA) in partnership with Nedbank, through the WWF Nedbank Green Trust, communities living in the Bushbuckridge and Malelane areas of Mpumalanga were engaged on issues of rhino poaching to gain an understanding on socio and cultural dynamics affecting this issue. These areas border Kruger National Park and the surrounding Associated Private Nature Reserves and are hot spots for poaching.
Results revealed that communities in the area have a great desire and willingness to contribute towards rhino conservation. This stems from the recognition that rhinos are part of our natural heritage.
The message from the communities was clear; the rhino has a spiritual and heritage significance connecting them to their ancestry; and 90% of individuals are willing to contribute towards rhino conservation. It was further evident that 16% of individuals were aware and knew of rhino poachers living within their community. However, the elderly within the community were less open to identifying or talking about the identity of poachers as they feared repercussions.
Trust remained a high risk issue of contention where 68% of the community would rather consider supplying information on poachers if their identities are protected and an incentive is paid.
The study further discovered that these communities do not think that enough has been done to curb this issue because there has been little or no engagement with them – the very same people who have a vested interest in the survival of this species. Further to this, communities view youth, religious and traditional leaders, as major influencers on the communities (57%); providing opportunities for rhino efforts to establish ground with these influencers and have a clear focus on where these efforts could be targeted. More....