Makuleke Ecotourism Project - Pafuri Camp

Makuleke Ecotourism Project - Pafuri Camp

Project background

Species of focus: 



Pafuri Camp is situated in the 24,000-hectare Makuleke concession in the northernmost section of Kruger National Park in South Africa.

Summary description: 

Pafuri Camp is a community-led ecotourism initiative in the northern part of the Kruger National Park. The main objectives of the Pafuri Camp are to protect the unique ecosystems and wildlife of the region and sustain a competitive ecotourism enterprise that provides the community with alternative livelihood opportunities and sustainable sources of income.

Pafuri Camp takes a participatory approach to ecotourism, based on the idea that community-based action is often the most effective approach to biodiversity protection and sustainable development. Activities are designed not only to generate income for the local community, but also to raise awareness among the local population of the value of protecting biodiversity in the region. Anti-poaching teams have been established to identify and eliminate illegal poaching.

Land management type: 

Communally managed land

Product(s) in trade: 

Types of poachers: 

Project implementation

Is the project implemented by an external party? 


Implementing organisation: 

Pafuri Camp is a three-way partnership between community landowners (the Makuleke community), a private enterprise (Wilderness Safaris), and the state (South Africa National Parks - Kruger National Park).

Name of funding organisation(s): 

Revenue from tourism is an important funding source. The organisation has also worked since its inception with a number of non-governmental organization partners on community development projects.

Community organisation(s) involved: 

The community contains more than 15,000 beneficiaries in three villages.

Was the project established specifically to engage communities in combatting IWT? 

Partly (one of a number of objectives)

Year the IWT project or component started 


Project status is currently: 

Community engagement

Approach taken to community engagement and its rationale: 

Community members are employed as game guards
Community members benefit from trophy hunting as a conservation incentive
Community members are provided with livelihood alternatives in lieu of wildlife use
Community members benefit from development projects (e.g. infrastructure development such as health or education facilities) as a conservation incentive


Pafuri Camp is the largest single employer of residents of the Makuleke community. A central component of the partnership agreement negotiated with Wilderness Safaris on construction and operation of Pafuri Camp was the stipulation that at least 90 % of those employed by the ecotourism enterprise would be drawn from the local community. There are currently 45 community members employed in operating the eco-lodge, eight employed as part of anti-poaching efforts, and more than 20 undergoing technical training, skills development and vocational training for employment elsewhere.

The Makuleke community has also collectively benefited from the revenue sharing agreement negotiated as part of the Wildnerness Safaris partnership. An 8 % share of lodge revenues is paid into the Makuleke Communal Property Association. These funds are made available for community works and development projects, and have helped launch bed and breakfast businesses and the hydroponic vegetable growing business, all of which employ and provide incomes for community members.


Not specified.

The community engagement project is: 

Stand alone initiative

What “rules of engagement” for working with communities does the case study address? 

Include local people in wildlife monitoring and enforcement networks
Ensure wildlife generate benefits, both tangible and intangible, for local people
Recognise and strengthen the legitimacy of local communities as critical partners

What has been the impact on poaching/IWT? 

Don’t know/Case study/project has not assessed impact on poaching

What has been the impact on wildlife populations? 

Not known/not documented
Lessons learned about engaging communities

What worked about the community engagement approach and why? 

A number of factors determine the long-term sustainability of Pafuri Camp. The social dimension of the work, and close ties with resident communities, has been crucial thus far. Employment, on-the-job training, bursaries for higher education and vocational training, loans for small business development, and investments into community infrastructure and social services (health clinics, schools, etc.) all help to foster social capital and community cohesion. Ensuring that benefits continue to flow directly to the community is essential to ensuring the long-term viability of the Pafuri Camp model.

Institutionally, the group needs to maintain close ties and healthy working relationships with national government authorities and bodies. This support has been and will remain critical.

Financially, the initiative is proving sustainable with revenues on the rise and high rates of reinvestment into the community. After a slow start in 2005, occupancy rates at Pafuri Camp have increased and allowed the business to pass the break-even point. The business has been operating at a profit since 2008. The project’s capacity to sustain, enhance, and expand environmental benefits  depends largely on the commercial viability of the ecotourism operation. As revenues increase from Pafuri Camp, the environmental protection afforded through the Makuleke concession will be more secure. Should the ecotourism business begin to struggle, the Makuleke people, as land owners, will look for alternative ways of making the land pay off.

What did not work and why? 

Not specified.

Case study information is up to date as of: 

Bibliographic information

Main source(s) of information: 

Published documentation


Makuleke Ecotourism Project - Pafuri Camp, South Africa. (English Version)



Year of publication: 


Journal/Book/Series details: 

Equator Initiative Case Study Series


United Nations Development Programme

Place published: 

New York, US.


Makuleke Ecotourism Project - Pafuri Camp, South Africa. (Afrikaans Version)



Year of publication: 


Journal/Book/Series details: 

Equator Initiative Case Study Series.


United Nations Development Programme

Place published: 

New York, US
Case study entry information

This case study entry compiled by: 

Francesca Booker

Date of case study entry: 

Friday, 23 September, 2016