In July 2018 the SAWC and the Greater Kruger Environmental Protection Forum (GKEPF) board entered into a relationship where the College has been tasked with assisting GKPEPF in meeting their community engagement priorities and objectives. This in part includes engaging with fellow Community Liaison Officers (CLO’s) represented within the GKEPF network.

The over arching objective of this engagement is; identifying areas of possible collaboration, sharing practice, learning, sharing and developing better practice amongst participating reserves. This was activated with the placement of Professor Mtungwa, whose role is to build relations with reserves and CLO’s associated under the umbrella of the Greater Kruger Environmental Protection Forum.

The first phase of engagement included visiting each of the reserves, conducting a situational analysis, informing GKEPF and the Unit of what is happening in the landscape. This was a thoroughly rewarding journey allowing us to see all the good work that is already taking place as well as participating in the warm welcomes/ willingness of the managers to engage with our team!

Over the past two months we were able to extend our engagement to the northern regions, under Ba-Phalaborwa Municipality. We were also able to make direct contact with two Tribal Authorities from the North, assessing the potential for further collaboration in enhancing the livelihoods and benefit sharing with communities.

In line with this, the team visited Maseke Community, which  comprises five villages and five headmen’s under Kgoshi Masheke’s Jurisdiction. From this early engagement Kgoshi expressed appreciation for our visit to her office. Further highlighting that she was looking forward to working with us (the GKEPF collective that we represent) and emphasised that “my people are unfortunately not currently that into conservation as there is little interest from our youth in conservation. More can definitely be done in my villages, so let us work together and if training opportunities arise, please share them with us so we can be part of this.”

Professor Mtungwa (GKEPF CLO) with Kgoshigadi Maseke.

The second visit saw us visiting Kgoshi Mashishimane, who is also a Kgoshigadi. She stepped in after her late father passed on and is currently holding office for the young Chief who is still a scholar. Kgoshigadi also expressed similar positive sentiments in their interest to be further involved in the conservation processes related to her people.