South Africa's premier birdwatching destination is safe for the moment, despite a land invasion by local communities last month designed to open the Ndumo Game Reserve for agriculture. This week the KwaZulu-Natal cabinet accepted provincial agriculture and environmental affairs minister Mtholephi Mthimkulu's proposal for an integrated plan for the area. Mthimkulu said: "There is no need for de-proclamation at the moment."
The MEC said his plan would provide a more sustainable solution than de-proclaiming part of the reserve. The plan includes improving service delivery, better access to clinics and schools and increased interaction with communities.
Communities surrounding the reserve live in poverty and have little arable land. Early last month the Bhekabantu and eMbangweni communities cut the park's fence and occupied land, demanding that they be allowed to farm inside the park.
Riaan Aucamp, spokesperson for Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk, said the minister was worried about the Ndumo situation, but that the KwaZulu-Natal cabinet would handle it. The crisis poses a threat to the new Lubombo Transfrontier Conservation Area, which will create a three-country mega reserve.