Land beneficiaries as game farmers: conservation, land reform and the invention of the ‘community game farm’ in KwaZulu-Natal
"Scholarship on post-apartheid land reform includes research on land
claims made to formal protected areas, such as national parks and state
game reserves. Little attention has however, been paid to the question
of land restitution claims on private lands, on which a range of
nominally ‘conservation-friendly’ land-uses (including commercial
hunting) have taken place. This article traces the emergence of the
‘community game farm’ as a product of land reform processes affecting
freehold land in the midlands of KwaZulu-Natal province, South Africa.
Two groups of land beneficiaries who were granted title to former
privately owned game farms used for leisure hunting are studied in
detail. The article shows that a range of state and private actors, as
well as traditional authorities, have worked to ensure the continuation
of the land under conservation or game farming after transfer. The
central argument is that in this process, a generic narrative is imposed
which works to conflate or deny the distinct historical identities of
the beneficiary groups. The article raises questions about the real
efficacy of land restitution in this context, as well as the
appropriateness of a community-based conservation narrative when applied
in the context of small farms such as those considered here."
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