Wildlife on the Savanna

Giraffes in Kruger Naional Park.
African wild dogs feeding on a carcass.
A woman feeding or petting an elephant.
The big five game: elephants, buffalos, rhinoceroses, lions and leopards.
Tourists in a jeep looking at a leopard.
Herds of zebras and wildebeests crossing a river patrolled by crocodiles.
South African safari lodge.

All of the big five game — elephants, lions, buffalos, leopards and rhinoceroses — can be seen roaming the South African savannas. So, too, can zebras, giraffes, antelopes and many others animals. Consequently, hearing a lion’s roar and seeing a herd of antelopes running by at full speed are among the things that define South Africa’s rural identity.

A desire for land

Nevertheless, the wildlife is under pressure from farming and human settlements. Among other things, a growing number of poor South Africans, desperate to make a living, demand the right to farm on uncultivated grass- and woodland. To help these people, authorities have sometimes agreed to their demands for land, leading to a decline in habitable areas for wild animals.

Nature reserves

Their land concessions notwithstanding, the government is keen to preserve its wildlife too. Therefore, by government mandate, some savannas in recent years have been fenced in and put under park ranger patrol. This creation of nature reserves has support from large parts of the population, although it is frustrating for poor, landless people to see farming possibilities disappear as fences go up.

To both help a part of the country’s poor population and protect wildlife habitats — a dual objective that historically has been difficult to meet — it is often suggested that efforts should be made to have poverty-stricken people get income from working with the preservation of nature and animals. The poor, by taking this approach, would then be incentivized to guard the wildlife, and pressure to clear land for farming projects would likely decrease. A way in which said strategy has already been implemented is by offering safaris in enclosed reserves to paying tourists. In this way, the tourists get a thrilling wildlife experience while at the same time sponsoring projects intended for wildlife conservation. Another monetization method with a similar aim, explained in a later chapter, is trophy hunting.