!Ae!Hai Kalahari Heritage Park in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Latest News15 June 2017
Astounding success of Erin
Tourism Officer for the Khomani San, Dirk Pienaar, says something meaningful has been started from nothing by Peace Parks Foundation, which manages the ‘Khomani San – Living in Peace’ project, sponsored by Rotary International and the German government. There has been capacity building and job creation – especially around Erin Game Ranch, which is the flagship project of the Khomani San. Camp staff, guides, trackers and skinners have all been employed in this highly successful game farm venture. Ranger Katrina Koper is one of the Erin wildlife rangers and says she has had lots of other jobs, but this one is by far the best. 'I have learnt so much here and I keep learning every day. I enjoy working with wildlife more than anything else.' Her passion is palpable. read more
In May 2002 the ‡Khomani San and Mier communities reached an historic land settlement agreement with the government of South Africa and South African National Parks (SANParks), which restored a large tract of land to the communities that had once roamed or farmed this area.
The !Ae!Hai Kalahari Heritage Park Agreement resulted in the transfer of ownership of 50 000 hectares of land within the boundaries of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park from SANParks to the two communities, who then leased the land back to SANParks.
It was later agreed that, instead of donating more land, SANParks would donate and translocate wildlife to stock the ‡Khomani San’s Erin Game Ranch. The first animals were translocated in 2012.
The heritage park is managed by a joint management board comprising representatives of the ‡Khomani San and Mier communities and South African National Parks (SANParks). The heritage park aims to preserve the cultural and traditional knowledge of these indigenous communities, while improving their opportunities to earn a livelihood. One of the key objectives of the communities is to expose Bushman
children, youth and adults to the traditional lifestyles of their ancestors. This is realised through the implementation of traditional veld schools held at the Imbewu Camp in the heritage park.
In 2013, Peace Parks Foundation worked with the Helderberg Sunrise Rotary Club to generate donations from more than 50 Rotary clubs in Germany for the !Ae!Hai Kalahari Heritage Park project. The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) provided matching funding. In 2014, a project-steering committee consisting of ‡Khomani San, Rotary and Peace Parks Foundation representatives was established to oversee the implementation of the project. Representatives from SANParks also attend the committee meetings.
A workshop was held to identify custodians of traditional culture to ensure its survival and to plan the structure and functioning of the veld school. A veld school curriculum was developed, covering subjects such as plant identification and usage, traditional healing practices, tracking and track interpretation, hunting and weapon making, and language (Nama and N/uu, the last original indigenous South African San languages).
On 13 May 2015, the ‡Khomani San’s tented camp on Erin Game Ranch, to the south of Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, was opened. The tented camp was constructed and furnished thanks to funding from Rotary Deutschland Gemeindienst and BMZ, with Peace Parks Foundation acting as implementing partner. It consists of six safari tents with wooden decks, ablution blocks and a central kitchen. The game ranch has become an essential source of income for the communities in the !Ae!Hai Kalahari Heritage Park, thanks to sustainable resource use. Wildlife Ranching South Africa provided expert advice on setting resource use quotas and determining market-related prices, as well as extensive training to community members to work as guides. They also donated equipment and closed in the cold-storage area.
In 2016 the communities continued to benefit from the sustainable resource use and tourism revenue from their Erin Game Ranch. Solar panels and supporting equipment were installed to supply Erin Tented Camp with electricity.
The South African Department of Environmental Affairs identified the ‡Khomani San’s farms as a showcase for community empowerment and for the development of a wildlife-based economy.
Following the donation by SANParks of zebra to Erin Game Ranch in July, a game count was undertaken, which found 200 gemsbok, 310 springbok, 14 eland, 109 red hartebeest, 74 blue wildebeest, seven giraffe and 19 zebra. To date, 431 animals have been translocated to the ranch.
The heritage park aims to maintain the cultural and traditional knowledge of the ‡Khomani San and Mier communities, while improving their opportunities to earn a livelihood. One of the key objectives is to expose Bushman children, youths and adults to the traditional lifestyles of their ancestors. During the year, a traditional veld school and a youth camps were held.
Three park staff completed their studies at the Southern African Wildlife College and the SA College for Tourism, thanks to funding from Rotary Deutschland Gemeindienst and BMZ.