Public Protector inspects KwaZulu-Natal game park fencing after complaints about wildlife attacks
Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela on Thursday conducted an inspection-in-loco at the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park near Ulundi in KwaZulu-Natal as part of an investigation into allegations that wild animals from the park terrorised nearby communities.
The own-initiative investigation into the matter followed complaints that not enough efforts were being made to prevent wild animals from escaping from the park and that victims of animal attacks were not being compensated.
Locals have alleged that leopards that have -on several occasions- escaped from the park, killing and maiming some members of the community. In addition, most locals had lost some of their livestock due to attacks by the animals, including hyenas.
On Thursday, the Public Protector, who was accompanied by a team of investigators from her office, inspected the quality of the fencing around the 960km2 park, to ascertain if indeed it left local communities and their livestock vulnerable to wildlife attacks.
Prior to her tour of the park, the Public Protector met with a group of community members and headmen from the area. She also met with officials from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, a state institution that manages the park.
During the meeting with the community, further complaints were filed. These included the manner in which the community was allegedly forcibly removed from the land without compensation. Community members complained that their rights to the land had been trampled upon.
Other complaints included claims that locals were not benefiting from the park and that they were not part of the decision-making processes on matters -concerning the park- which affected their livelihoods.
The community also alleged that, due to a 1950 policy, they were only compensated for attacks by animals other than those indigenous to the area. They called for the review of the policy and increased efforts to stop dangerous animals from escaping.
The Public Protector undertook to take the new issues into account as she finalises the investigation.
For more information, contact:
Public Protector South Africa
(012) 366 7006
079 507 0399