The 'Protecting wildlife by linking communities and conservation in Mozambique' project addresses the impacts of illegal cross border trade of rhino horn upon white and black rhinoceros in Kruger National Park (KNP) in South Africa. KNP is home to the largest population of white rhino in the world as well one of the largest of black rhinos, but these animals are under serious threat. As of 31st July 2014, 400 rhinos had been killed in KNP, a loss of nearly two per day. As the largest rhino area in the country with the most numerous rhino population, Kruger is a critical site for ensuring the future of in-situ wild rhinos. According to South African Nationals Parks (SANParks), around 80 % of all poaching incursions into KNP come from Mozambique, in particularly by people moving across the international boundary on the eastern border. Mozambique is known to act as an important entrepôt for horn sourced from South Africa to move on to markets in Asia.
To some extent, Sabie Game Park (SGP), on the eastern boundary of KNP, is acting as a buffer between people in Mozambique and the rhinos in KNP. The Mangalane community, which inhabits SGP, is recognised as being agriculture-based with very low income, few opportunities for alterative livelihoods and as being disenfranchised with wildlife and conservation. In addition, until the introduction of the new Conservation Areas law in April 2014, there has been very little legislation relating to illegal activities with wildlife in Mozambique, making wildlife crimes very difficult to police.
With funding from the Darwin Initiative, from 2015-2018, this project intends to address the threats to rhinos in Kruger by developing alternative wildlife-based sources of income, enhancing community governance structures and increasing awareness of new legislation in the Mangalane community. Beneficiaries of this project will be the members of five villages of the Mangalane community living in the buffer area adjacent to the Sabi Game Park.
The project's theory of change is based on an understanding that people are dependent upon natural resource use in much of Africa. The project aims to develop a model for wildlife-tourism that benefits communities and as a result reduces illegal activity. Within this overarching goal is the need to identify a range of opportunities for income generation, both from agriculture development as well as the wildlife-based industry. The basic premise of the project is that greater involvement by the Mangalane community in natural resource management will lead to poverty reduction and improved livelihoods and that this will lay a foundation for reduced criminal activity.
In parallel, community governance needs to be strengthened to ensure active participation and equitable benefits sharing within the Mangalane community, with a particular focus on equitable benefit distribution including the most vulnerable members such as women. Formal committees and regular community meetings will be used to build capacity within the community to monitor and manage income and information. The project will also increase awareness about the new “Conservation Areas” law in both the community (through workshops) and government structures and develop a mechanism for apprehending and prosecuting illegal wildlife and natural resource activity agreed and implemented between community and private landholders as well as the judiciary and police.