Wildlife conservation through people-centred approaches to natural resource management programmes and the control of wildlife exploitation
While the Convention on Biological Diversity (1992) introduced a new and progressive outlook on conservation, the South African government has failed to produce a comprehensive legal body of legislation to give effect to its varied obligations. Inconsistency and incompleteness of regulations governing wildlife conservation in conjunction with the failure to implement objectives to conserve wildlife through restricted exploitation with the political, social and economic motives of community conservation must be seen as major contributions to failed conservation goals. This paper analyses post-apartheid conservation laws and policies and argues that current plans for people-centred approaches to natural resource management programmes have been unsuccessful in operationalizing policy goals of biodiversity conservation and sustainable development into transparent plans for implementation. In fact, legal instruments and implementation plans seem to focus on the benefit-sharing components of community participation and therefore fail to address important issues of resource exploitation. It is suggested that where communities are expected to take part in the management of wildlife resources, the responsibility for sustainable wildlife management must be linked to the benefit-sharing instruments of the programmes. However, these would not deal with ‘outsiders’ like poachers and poaching driven by commercial interests. The paper proposes a model that allows communities to take control over wildlife resources.