30 March 2005

Hunting banned next to Kruger National Park

Limpopo imposed a moratorium on Tuesday on hunting in nature reserves that border the Kruger National Park.

Fences that divided neighbouring reserves from the Kruger park were removed in 1996.

Charles Maluleke, senior manager of Limpopo department for economic development, environmental affairs and tourism, said on Tuesday no hunting would be permitted in reserves such as Timbavati, Umbabat and Klasserie until the dispute involving trophy hunting had been resolved.

Nor would hunting permits be issued for the new season that starts on Friday and ends at the end of July, he said.

"All permits that already have been issued will be cancelled."

The decision to ban hunting in the area followed a meeting about the controversial issue of trophy hunting in nature reserves.

The meeting was between the owners of Timbavati, the Limpopo government, the management of SANParks and Environment Affairs and Tourism MInister Marthinus van Schalkwyk.

'Only for the wealthy'
United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa raised the issue about two weeks ago when he said "only a group of wealthy people" were allowed to hunt the country's "natural heritage" in nature reserves.

Since the fences had been removed, animals roamed freely between the Kruger Park and the nature reserves.

Maluleke says he realised "something strange is going on" when a rich foreign hunter pays R1 000 for a permit to shoot a leopard that earns the nature reserve R30 000.

He said part of the investigation called for by Van Schalkwyk in connection with the so-called agreement between SANParks and the nature reserves would be to determine how much tax the hunters and landowners had paid recently.

Tom Hancock, chairperson of the Timbavati committee and who is in favour of trophy hunting in the reserve, said on Tuesday he had not received "anything in writing" about the hunting ban.

Hennie de Beer, a Timbavati landowner who is in favour of eco-tourism, welcomed the moratorium.

"Now we can start from scratch and come to a new arrangement with SANParks."


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