The interaction between local communities and wildlife conservation has been a topic of great concern over the years. Ensuring that these two entities coexist in a manner that benefits both parties remains a crucial area of exploration and study. The World Wildlife Federation (WWF) South Africa Khetha programme, with support from the United States Agency for International Development, conducted a study in partnership with a private game reserve in the Greater Kruger region to explore these relationships. The study findings were presented in a 2D animation video produced by our team, summarising the complex interplay between community livelihoods, culture, nature conservation, and economic concerns in the context of the Greater Kruger landscape.
The WWF South Africa Khetha programme conducted the study using the SenseMaker tool. The study aimed to collect stories from 460 individuals, including community members, reserve employees, and landowners. With the SenseMaker tool, the researchers set out to explore the perceptions and interactions between local communities, conservation managers, protected areas, and wildlife. The study identified six key themes in the relationships between these entities.
The first theme highlighted the importance of employment and cultural preservation in relation to the community’s relationship with the reserve. The study revealed that the community valued the reserve for the employment opportunities it provided and how it helped preserve their culture.
The second theme showed the community’s connection with nature and how it linked their culture and heritage with natural resources. This theme highlighted the community’s appreciation of the natural resources around them and how they viewed wildlife as part of their heritage.
The third theme showed the community’s view on rhinos. The stakeholders expressed a mix of cultural, economic, and conservation perspectives in relation to the animal.
The fourth theme highlighted the community’s concerns about rhino poaching. The study explored the negative impact of rhino poaching on communities and examined the motivations driving this illegal activity.
The fifth theme focused on perspectives on law enforcement. The study recognised the role that rangers played in conserving the area, but the community expressed concern about boundaries and the enforcement of laws.
Finally, the sixth theme explored the community needs, which included employment, water access, healthcare, and cultural preservation.
In brief, the WWF South Africa Khetha programme conducted an in-depth study to explore the relationships between local communities and wildlife conservation. Through the study, they were able to highlight the community’s perception of the reserve, their connections with nature, their views on rhinos, concerns about rhino poaching, perspectives on law enforcement, and community needs. Our 2D animation video summarised the complex interplay between community livelihoods, culture, nature conservation, and economic concerns in the context of the Greater Kruger landscape. This 2D animation was very well received by the community and made the content highly accessible. On top of that, the narration by one of our team members within our in-house recording studio allowed us to produce the video in a much shorter timeframe.
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