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Reflections on the relationships between communities and conservation areas of South Africa: the case of five South African national parks

T.S. Simelane, G.I.H. Kerley, M.H. Knight

Koedoe; Vol 49, No 2 (2006), 85-102. doi: 10.4102/koedoe.v49i2.121

Submitted: 18 December 2006
Published:  18 December 2006


An evaluation of the relationships between communities around Addo Elephant National Park, Mountain Zebra National Park, Karoo National Park, Golden Gate Highlands National Park and Vaalbos National Park shows that these communities have limited ecological knowledge and understanding of resources occurring within the parks. People within these communities rate relationships with their neighbouring parks as relatively poor. Despite this, these communities are keen to support conservation and management of biodiversity through national parks. The study further revealed that two types of communities occur around the national parks of South Africa. These are neighbouring and the distant communities. The distant communities are more urban in character than the neighbouring communities. These communities are heterogeneous with people from a variety of cultures. The varying lifestyle, age groups, cultural backgrounds and income levels lead to differences in expectations from the national parks by these communities. This, which is critical in determining the level of appreciation of conservation of biodiversity by communities around conservation areas, requires the attention of the park managers. They need to ensure that when distributing the benefits or opportunities linked to conservation, cultural, income and education differences among communities are considered and used as the basis for development and implementation of community development projects.

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Author affiliations

T.S. Simelane, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa
G.I.H. Kerley, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa
M.H. Knight, South African National Parks, South Africa


Community based conservation; Biodiversity; Natural resources


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