The PACE coordinator was in Makuleke, Limpopo Province, in South Africa this month. We were invited by the local Makuleke Park Manager, as part of our collaboration with the Southern Africa Wildlife College.

The Makuleke people were one of the first communities to win back land that they were forced off of to create Kruger National Park. They now have full ownership, and co-manage their 22,000 ha of land within the KNP, alongside SAN Parks, the National Park authority.  The Makuleke Region of the Kruger National Park (KNP) is called a contractual park, and it seeks to harmonise the protection of biological diversity with the interests of the rural people. Management is aligned to the rest of Kruger, but rights, employment and income from tourism is returned to the community.

Makuleke’s park manager is extending his school and community education and outreach. There is still a lot of work to do, particularly concerning practical problems the community face – especially water and solid waste management, fuel-wood and need for alternative energy, soil erosion and mitigating human-wildlife conflict.

We spent three days working with local teachers and community leaders, discussed their immediate environmental and conservation problems, shared and explored the PACE materials, and considered if and how they might be useful for local stakeholders. There was a lot of enthusiasm and we are looking forward to their plans being realised, in classrooms, school clubs and community events. The community cohesion and interest in learning, especially about their environment, was inspiring and warming.  A huge pleasure to work with you all – Makuleke and the Wildlife College team!