Protector no pussy cat over leopard attacks

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iol news pic Thuli Madonsela Apr24 Independent Newspapers Public Protector Thuli Madonsela. File picture: Antoine de Ras

Durban - Leopards and hyenas have joined corrupt officials on Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s watch list.

Her office released a statement on Friday saying she had inspected game park fencing at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park near Ulundi after complaints from locals that wild animals in the park were terrorising nearby communities.

Acting on her own initiative, after hearing not enough was being done to prevent wildlife from escaping, she carried out an inspection of some of the fencing around the 960km2 park to ascertain if it left local communities and their livestock vulnerable to attacks. Locals said victims were not being compensated for animal attacks.

According to her office, locals have alleged that leopards have escaped on several occasions, killing and maiming members of the community. In addition, most locals had lost some of their livestock due to attacks by the animals, including hyenas.

On Thursday, Madonsela, accompanied by a team of investigators, inspected the quality of the fencing. Earlier she met a group of community members and headmen. She also met officials from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.

During the meeting, further complaints were filed including about the manner in which the community was allegedly forcibly removed from the land without compensation. People said their rights to the land had been trampled on.

Other complaints included claims that locals were not benefiting from the park and that they were not part of decision-making processes on park matters, while the park affected their livelihoods.

They also alleged that, due to a 1950 policy, they were only compensated for attacks by animals other than those indigenous to the area. They called for a review of the policy and increased efforts to stop dangerous animals from escaping.

Madonsela undertook to take the issues into account.

Independent on Saturday


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