Under South Africa's land restitution programme, the Khomani San had land in the Kglagadi Transfrontier Park returned to them in 1999. It took many years for actual access to the land to be obtained for the majority of the community, but that has now been achieved. In terms of the settlement agreement, the Khomani San have the right to conduct cultural and symbolic activities, both on their land and in a further vast area in the park, which includes traditional hunting and plant harvesting. In 2007/8 a set of resource use protocols were developed by the San and finally accepted by all parties including South African National Parks (SANParks), the conservation management agent.
An M&E system then needed to be established and it was decided that cybertrackers would be suitable tools for this purpose. Initial training took place in 2008, attended by a small group of San trackers and guides. In 2009, mapping of plant populations in the park and on land belonging to the San outside of the park commenced. Each team consists of a traditional doctor with a wealth of plant knowledge, and a younger tracker or cyber-ranger as they are referred to - this to facilitate the transfer of knowledge from elders to youth. All data is then downloaded into the GIS system on one of the computers in the San's office, where it can be further mapped and analysed for management purposes. The Khomani San's park committee are in charge of issuing their own permits for traditional hunting and plant harvesting to community members, and for recording all offtakes.
The beauty of the above is that the M&E initiative is community led and actively facilitating knowlege transfer between generations. The Khomani San are also in the process of establishing a Traditional Conservation Area adjacent to the park that will be managed and utilised in a customary manner, and of course the cybertrackers are also useful in respect of infrastructure management. SANParks have kindly donated game for the restocking of this area. The intention is also to rehabilitate the Traditional Conservation Area and other degraded land outside of the park and monitor the progress made with the reintroduction of medicinal plants in particular.
A further activity that will commence this year is the mapping of the cultural landscape, again using the cybertrackers to locate points and then recording the stories, history and past movements of elders.
For more information contact: Philippa Holden email@example.com