MISSION 07 of 2012
Name of Mission: Ndumo Land Invasion
Date of Mission: 17 April 2012
Pilot: Len Kohler
Aircraft used: Bushbaby
Beneficiary: Paul Dutton Environmental Consultants
The objective of the flight:
To provide visual proof of the damage to sensitive floodplain ecotone and riverine forest, and further encroachment across the Pongolo into pristine habitat, for presentation to an EIA scoping presentation organised by the uMkhanyakude District Municipality and the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs (DAEA).
Beneficiary’s report by Paul Dutton
“Observer Paul Dutton was flown by Bateleurs pilot Len Kohler in his Bushbaby on this mission to determine the impacts from slash and burn cultivators who have invaded Ndumo Game Reserve in north eastern KwaZulu-Natal. Ndumo is a Ramsar/World Heritage Site, and was proclaimed a designated conservation area in 1924.
Three days after the flight the images were presented to an EIA scoping meeting, organised by the uMkhanyakude District Municipality, in partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs (DAEA). Our evidence and concerns were noted and we now have a legal platform from which to raise our concerns regarding agriculture’s thrust to convert 14% of the most pristine part of the reserve to vegetable gardens, by means of ‘slash and burn’ cultivation.The majority of the cultivators are refugees from Mozambique who were originally given sanctuary in South Africa during that country’s fourteen-year civil war. The ANC provincial government has issued illegal immigrants with South African documents which facilitates their movement through an uncontrolled border gate. This has become the main route for nefarious activities including hijacked vehicles and access to free social amenities.
South Africa has already lost the Dukuduku Forest Reserve, the country’s only area of lowland evergreen hardwood forest, to foreign immigrants who invaded it and converted the ancient hardwood trees into charcoal. We are destined also to lose the miniscule 10 000ha Ndumo Game Reserve if the ANC provincial government forges ahead with its agronomic plans.A possible alternative to vegetable gardens would be the implementation of a South African/Mozambican/Swaziland tripartite plan for a Transfronteir Conservation Area (TFCA) connecting the three states. This could enable enormous socio-economic and environmental benefits in an area plagued by poverty and criminality.
Was the objective of the flight met?
The images taken during the flight confirm the extent of damage to sensitive floodplain ecotone and riverine forest and further encroachment across the Pongolo into pristine habitat.