Hi Leadwood. Your reference to africa and grazing of cattle for thousands of years and that we visitors should not be wishing the local people away was in deed thought provoking and there is a big part of me that is sensitive with this view. My issue has to do with the scenario of paying for a movie only to take ones seat and discover that there is a rock band in the same room competing for the same audience. As with predators and livestock the two are incompatible. It is important therefore to get the word out so that people who do not agree with this practice are informed and can exercise their options accordingly.
I have experience with game farming and have a reasonable eye for the quality of grazing and impact on the land. On Mapungubwe's Southern boundary the grazing is at its healthiest in contrast to the Northern strip where the cattle & goats are concentrated, it is virtually non existent. I am confused that anyone would want to argue otherwise.
It is common knowledge that predators take the path of least resistance in selecting the soft prey option. These would include sick, injured, young or even more tantalizing, a healthy domestic animal or unarmed human being on foot. As I mentioned before, the abundance of domestic animals suggests that the lions are meeting fierce resistance, hence their conspicuous absence.
On the home page of www.mapungubwe.com
in the opening paragraph it refers to "Big Five" as one of a handful of major attractions named as a hook to land tourists. There is no mention that this is half a cattle farm and this is grossly misleading.
I concur that fences are inappropriate along the river bank and I am confused as to the reason for their existence. Fences are not what determines whether or not domestic animals roam freely, in this instance it is the people who own these animals who do. So back to my point of impounding and fining the owners when they arrive to claim their livestock.
I support the expansion of the migratory routes and the trans frontier proposal goes a long way to solving this. The endemic human population density is fairly low and the success of the park will require that these people are beneficiaries of its commercial success and they will be integrated, better off and not wished away. For the land utilization to be successful will require it to be either a Big Five reserve or a hybridized cattle farm. I suspect that the economic pendulum will swing in favor of the Big Five option.
No I don't have proof that the cattle are owned by park employees. Their apparent lack of will to address the issue suggests that they may be complicit in the problem. If not, they are guilty of gross negligence. It is their job to know that these cattle are depleting an already scarce food resource that negatively impacts the game population in the park and nullifies the Big Five reserve claim.
The fact that this is happening and has been for a while, suggests that SANParks is not in the least bit concerned. Will they even read my complaint? And if they do, will they act? I suggest NOT!
An informed public will exercise their options in terms of where they wish to spend their money. And if it is a remote cattle farm with some game that they seek, Mapumgupwe will be a preferred destination.