KZN land claim a wild suc­cess

Vuk'uzenzele - - General - Hlengiwe Ngob­ese

WITH SUP­PORT from KZN Wildlife and other con­ser­va­tion en­ti­ties,a group of land claimants are now the proud own­ers of a 12 000-hectare game re­serve in the heart of Zu­l­u­land.

Asuc­cess­ful land claim by the KwaGumbi Com­mu­nity led to the es­tab­lish­ment of the Somkhanda pri­vate game re­serve in north­ern KwaZulu-Natal.

Sit­u­ated in Mkhuze, it is named af­ter Somkhanda Gumbi, the great grand­fa­ther of Inkosi Ze­blon Gumbi.

The land was forcibly taken in 1960, re­sult­ing in 250 peo­ple los­ing their homes. The com­mu­nity’s Inkosi Gumbi said peo­ple were re­lo­cated else­where, with some go­ing as far as the uMkhanyakude Dis­trict.

“In 2003, we reg­is­tered our claim with the Land Com­mis­sion and two years later, our land was re­turned to us. It took us eight years to de­cide what we were go­ing to do with the land as some of us wanted it to be a farm, while oth­ers were in­sist­ing on main­tain­ing it as a game re­serve,” he said.

“In 2013, we part­nered with the Wild­lands Con­ser­va­tion Trust which helped us to se­cure grant fund­ing to up­grade fenc­ing and other in­fra­struc­ture.”

The fund­ing also al­lowed com­mu­nity mem­bers to be trained in man­age­ment, tourism and hos­pi­tal­ity.

Wild­lands is still re­spon­si­ble for the day-to-day run­ning of the game re­serve, but suit­able com­mu­nity mem­bers are be­ing trained to take over this func­tion in the fu­ture

Gumbi said the game re­serve has pro­vided 40 em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for com­mu­nity mem­bers.

“Th­ese young peo­ple were hired af­ter they had been trained as field rangers and in hos­pi­tal­ity ser­vices,” he said.

The re­serve is home to the big five and also has African wild dog, spot­ted and brown hyena, gi­raffe, ze­bra, kudu, nyala, blue wilde­beest, impala, bush pigs and warthogs, as well as some rarer species such as jack­als, honey bad­ger and cara­cals. There are also more than 230 bird species.

A va­ri­ety of ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions is avail­able, as well as ac­tiv­i­ties that give vis­i­tors in­sight into con­tem­po­rary Zulu cul­ture. An an­nual cer­e­mony is held, to which amakhosi from neigh­bour­ing coun­tries are in­vited.

Some of the vis­i­tors who trav­elled from far to ex­plore the beauty of Somkhanda pri­vate game re­serve.

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