Chris Ndaliso
Senior journalist
3 minute read
27 Jun 2022

Annual traditional hunt in KZN blamed for ‘decimating’ local wildlife

Chris Ndaliso

The annual traditional hunt has been slammed for allegedly decimating the wildlife at the Royal Natal National Park, in the Bergville area, in the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains.

The annual traditional hunt has been slammed for allegedly decimating the wildlife at the Royal Natal National Park, in the Bergville area, in the foothills of the Drakensberg mountains.

Neighbouring residents, some with involvement in the upkeep of the park, allege that a local Inkosi was treating the park like his spaza shop. Poaching by local residents is also a concern for those who care about wildlife.

During a traditional hunt about two weeks ago, 11 elands and two other animal species were killed by the said Inkosi and his entourage in one day. According to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, the Inkosi was permitted to kill 25 different animal species.

One resident said: 

“These people do not realise that they are running the existing animal species to extinction. There is big contention on what is going on in that park. That’s a national park and a heritage site so it is strange that there are individuals who are simply allowed to just walk in and hunt animals in large numbers. When it comes to full moon poachers are also wreaking havoc and soon we will have no animals left here. Ezemvelo doesn’t seem to care because it’s the same authority that grants permits to the Inkosi to hunt.”

During the traditional hunt, a notice was placed at the park notifying visitors and locals that the Tugela Gorge, Vermaan, Policeman Helmet and Devil’s Hoek trails were closed off to the public for the duration of the day’s hunt.

“We are deeply concerned about this conduct because this is a protected nature reserve. Why close off so many trails for one man to hunt? There should be designated areas for these hunts if they are conducted to keep up with tradition. They must not compromise what’s left of our nature reserves,” said another community member.

Ezemvelo confirms hunt

Ezemvelo spokesperson Musa Mntambo confirmed the hunt, and the animals killed. He said the Lion’s Ridge area (which is part of the park), known by the locals as Mbanjwana was under the Amazizi Traditional Council before uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park was declared as a World Heritage Site.

Mntambo said an agreement was reached between Ezemvelo and the Amazizi community to include this area of the World Heritage Site on condition that the local community were allowed to do their annual traditional hunt.  Mntambo explained: 

“This hunt is a cultural event which Inkosi and his people have to do to fulfil some cultural requirements. Ezemvelo always prepares a hunting permit during the hunt. The permit indicates the type and numbers of species to be hunted. This time around, they were permitted to hunt 25 different types of species. The 25 included five elands. Another condition of the hunt is also that they must only hunt in an area that belonged to them before the area was declared a World Heritage Site.”

He said rangers were always around to watch the hunt and ensure that it was done according to the permit conditions. “Unfortunately this time around instead of five eland there were 11 eland killed. All in all only 13 animals were killed which is a number far less than the 25 that they had been permitted to hunt. They use guns to hunt and not dogs. We shall soon have a meeting with the hunt organisers to try and understand why more than the allocated number of eland were killed. The permit for next year’s hunt will also carry the lessons learnt from [the recent] hunt,” said Mntambo.

Induna of the eMazizini tribal area who only identified himself as Miya, said he would not discuss tribal issues over the phone.

“If you want details of what happened during the ingqina (hunt) you must come to the eMazizini tribal court where we can discuss this in person.

Tell those who gave you my number and those who are complaining about our traditional hunt to also come and vent their displeasures here in our court,” he said.