Kruger programme aims to nip plant poaching in the bud

Skukuza Nursery in the Kruger National Park (KNP) has up to 276 indigenous species being cultivated. Three of these species, however, receive a lot more attention than the rest, due to poaching.

The manager of the nursery, Meurel Baloyi, said community members come into the park to harvest, specifically, the pepperbark tree, wild ginger and the Swazi lily. These species all hold medicinal value and traditional healers use them for various purposes.

Thankfully, with this type of poaching, the park has come up with a sustainable solution.

Together with the People in Conservation department in the KNP, the nursery has initiated a project in which it engages with these healers to establish the plants they use, and to prevent further poaching the community receives a donation of seeds.

Baloyi said workshops are held at which healers are taught how to cultivate more of their own plants. This has resulted in a decline in the number of plants poached in the park.

This project has been running for some time, as the park noticed some of these sought-after trees dying in 2002.

When, for example, the bark of a tree is harvested, the tree will die within two to three years.

Most of these trees found in the wild are too big to be removed, so only certain parts are taken. Rangers monitor these trees and give daily feedback, said Baloyi.

Aside from this community project, the nursery has various other species, including baobabs, impala lilies, jackalberries and many more, all of which are for sale, as the nursery is open to the public.

Once you have purchased a plant, the nursery issues you a permit for you to safely exit the park with the latest indigenous addition to your garden.

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