PRETORIA– The South African is beefing up security in the country’s wildlife reserves and wetland parks to fight wildlife crime.
A total of 2,000 young people around the country have been employed as environmental monitors in game reserves and wetland parks and more than 235 million Rand (about 19 million US dollars) have been set aside for the project. The monitors say they know the importance of preserving and protecting wildlife.
The project also assists them to put food on the table. Most of them are deployed in rhinoceros poaching hotspots, such as the Umkhuze Game Reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal Province.
The programme is already bearing fruit, One of the monitors, 26-year-old Phakamani Nyawo, has already caught a poacher who has been convicted and is serving time in prison.
Experience is the best teacher. I have experience which I’m proud of. My family has a great roof now without leaks and it’s because of my job, he said.
Monitors have been employed at the Isimangaliso Wetlands park, also in KZN province.
What we need to do is to go out there and teach the community about the importance of nature conservation and make them understand why it’s important to conserve nature then they’ll join us, says an environmental monitor at the 332,000-hectare park, Nokwanda Ngonyama.
Having monitors more visible in reserves has also benefited tourism. While the government is doing all that it can, it still needs additional financial support to sustain the programme.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK