Local Habitation after Proclamation of the Reserve.
During his first tour of the Shingwedzi Game Reserve during 1903, Stevenson-Hamilton found many kraals along the Letaba, Shingwedzi and Levhuvu Rivers.
In his report for the period 1903 to 1904 he makes mention of “… isolated kraals scattered through the Reserve…” and “… I would certainly advocate the removal of the isolated kraals, which are nothing but hunting camps, to the larger rivers, where there is a larger human population and no game.”
He estimated that there were about 2000 to 3000 residents in the Reserve when he took over the Administration of the area.
During the period 1905 and 1906 the following kraals were identified:
The spelling is as per Stevenson-Hamilton’s hand drawn maps.
In 1911 the population was estimated at “… about 600 tax paying male natives, and 3500 old men, women and children, in the Sabie Game Reserve and in the Shingwedzi excluding Mhinga’s and Makuleke’s locations only about 200 all told”. “Most of the natives in the Sabie are, however located along the western border, with the exception of these and about 600 of both sexes, including children, on two or three Landowners Association (Transvaal Consolidated Landowners Association) farms near the Sabie Poort, there are less than 200 natives north of the Sabie and none at all south of it.”
“The principle of allowing the isolated kraals to exist on condition that the occupiers assist the authorities with information and vermin destruction works well. We get a great deal of valuable information from these people… .”
Severe drought conditions caused a general emigration of the resident population from the eastern and northern areas of the Sabie Game Reserve during 1913.
For the Shingwedzi Game Reserve it was stated in 1913 that “… now that the large locations (villages) in the north-west have been eliminated from this Reserve, the total number of native inhabitants amount to only a few hundred men women and children, living in isolated in widely scattered kraals. During the past ten years the tendency was to emigrate westwards on account of the lack of rain.
In 1921 he stated that the “… actual facts were that, while the Game Reserve south of the Sabie River was denuded of natives in 1902, in order to facilitate the increase of game, the strip on the west … was taken over and added to the Reserve only at the end of 1903 (being then full of natives as it is now). The idea was then that this extra land would add a buffer area, between the game country and the land under white settlement, in which the natives would be under the control of Reserve staff. Both game and settlers would benefit from this arrangement.”
Generally the Black population was sparse because of the inhospitable conditions and many of the groups were also nomadic.
The behaviour of the resident populations was ascribed by the Sabie Game Reserve authorities as “generally good”. In spite of the relatively low numbers of inhabitants and although law enforcement was more stringently applied after the proclamation of the Reserves, poaching could not be eliminated entirely and was noted in annual reports as being a problem.