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Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife apparently receives an annual budget of over R500 million from the provincial government. According to reports, the nature conservation agency is under pressure to operate independently and raise its own revenue to continue operating, as other departments like health and education needed more resources to deliver services.
World-renowned South African conservationist Ian Player criticised the government saying he had never heard “such nonsense in all his life…There is no country in the world that I know which has national parks that run without government funding.”
But would it really be such a disaster if the government got out the conservation game? Government starves chickens and pregnant cattle to death, would you really trust them with conserving big game? Furthermore, as Ivo Vegter pointed out in a recent Daily Maverick column:
Dr Gert Dry, the deputy president of Wildlife Ranching South Africa, broke them [the numbers] down for a green economy conference in 2010. Of South Africa’s 122.3 million hectare land area, 7.5 million hectares, or 6.1%, are protected by government as national parks. Much more – 20.5-million hectares or 16.8% – is owned by private landowners who operate commercial game ranches.
It is in the public parks, where there is a skills shortage and mismanagement of funds (owing to the lack of the profit motive), where rhino poaching is a major crisis, not in the private game ranching industry.
Because private game ranchers own the livestock on their farms, they are more inclined to protect the value of it, and prevent poaching and theft, than politicians who take care of these animals on behalf of the taxpayer. What South African wildlife needs, is more privatisation of national parks. Hopefully, by cutting funding for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, we take one step toward private property and thus wildlife conservation of their parks .