JOHANNESBURG - Excitement was palpable in the Eastern Cape province’s Double Drift area on Wednesday where the local community received title deeds for land returned to them in terms of the land redistribution programme.
Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa also launched the community’s Double Drift wildlife economy project, which boasts herds of zebras and hartebees.
“This initiative enables access to start-up game or wild animals which in itself fosters the ownership of game in the hands of communities, particularly the previously disadvantaged. It further advances the interface between communities and protected areas which in turn contributes to promoting sustainable livelihoods through ecotourism, job creation and protection of natural and cultural heritage,” said Molewa.
“The launch of this Double Drift Project marks the new dawn in community-led wildlife management which unlocks wildlife ranching that includes a focus on game breeding and live sales. Secondary activities associated with these include veterinary services, translocation services, fencing and infrustructure maintenace. Other widlife activities include trophy hunting, production of biltong and other wildlife products of game meat processing, skin and hides, curios and jewelry.”
She said the community wildlife project means young people in the area must now acquire skills to participate meaningfully in the wildlife economy. The area also has a variety of indigenous plants, including Aloe Ferox, and Pelargonium which are mainly harvested informally by the local communities.
“I call on young people to pursue careers in the fields of, among others, nature conservation, verterinary sevices, ecotourism, taxidermy, animal husbandry, zoology, botany and ecology. Government will continue to work as partners with communites and private sector to provide the necessary support required for these kinds of initiatives to succeed,” said Molewa.
The Double Drift community was dispossessed of its residential and grazing rights as a result of the 1913 Land Act to make way for the establishment of the Double Drift Nature Reserve, which forms part of the Great Fish Nature Reserve.
After the dawn of democracy in 1994, the community lodged a land claim which was settled in 2012 and Likhaya Lethu Communal Property Association (CPA) was established.
The Likhaya Lethu CPA, consisting of 1500 Double Drift Community members, has been funded with R6 million by the department of environmental affairs to develop a wildlife economy business venture in the 1, 400 hectare farm Naudeshoek, which has been bought for them as part of the settlement by the South African government through the department of rural development and land reform.
The department of environmental affairs said more than 60 jobs have already been created.
Ten zebras and 20 hartebees were introduced into the reserve on Wednesday.
- African News Agency (ANA)