Creating stakeholders in community-based natural resource management through traditional hunting : a comparative study of Inhluzani Farm and Mpembeni Community Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal.
Dlamini, Zamafuthi S.
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The colonial attitude to traditional hunting practice was harsh and exclusivist and traditional hunting with dogs was therefore outlawed through legislation. This was the case throughout British African colonies and the former Natal colony was no exception. In some state game reserves, game rangers destroyed African dogs and on private farms, farmers shot dogs found there, yet traditional hunting had great cultural significance for African men. The destruction of dogs was a source of conflict and bitterness for rural people in KwaZulu-Natal. Due to the failures of colonial conservation practices to address environmental challenges of the past and present, there has been a shift of conservation philosophy. Unlike in the past, the current conservation practice has sought to address environmental problems by integrating conservation, culture and development. This has given rise to a broader discussion about linking conservation to the process of rural development and the survival of agrarian societies living adjacent to protected areas. In view of these complexities and challenges, this thesis uses the cases of iNhluzani farm and Mpembeni Community game reserve to determine and ascertain whether or not traditional hunting is still significant to rural people, and to explore the effects that either allowing or not allowing such an activity might have on attitudes towards natural resources. The thesis further explores the possibility that recognising culture, and bringing it explicitly into conservation practices, might help to reverse a history of exclusion and bring about greater sustainability. For this reason, the study draws on relevant theories of environmental and social justice, sustainable development as well as Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs. The study also assesses the nature and extent of public participation in natural resource management in the two cases. The findings of the study suggest that the majority of stakeholders agree that cultural practices could be linked to natural resource management under controlled circumstances. In the case of iNhluzani for instance, where the local people are guaranteed equitable access to wildlife resources within the farm, the people have developed a clear desire to protect wildlife within and outside the farm, even though they do not own the land. Contrary to this, in the case of Mpembeni community game reserve, incidents of poaching and illegal hunting are escalating and conflict and tension is still prevalent between the conservation authority and the surrounding community. This study therefore suggests that recognising local indigenous knowledge and cultural practice is essential for creating meaningful stakeholders in Natural Resource Management. The integration of culture should ease the tension between conservation authorities and local communities.