The Makuleke Community Land Claims

During the apartheid years, several communities, including the Makuleke community, were forcibly removed from their land in order for it to be assimilated into the Greater Kruger National Park.

October 28, 2021

In 1995, under the Restitution of Land Rights Act, the Makuleke community demanded their rights to what was known as the Pafuri area. The issue was a complex one, with consideration having to be given to whether the alternative land the community had been given was adequate compensation for the land lost. There was also the question of the biodiversity value of the area.  

After intensive negotiations, a settlement was reached – one that has been described as a world class agreement and a breakthrough for conservation in South Africa – in which:

  • The land known as the Pafuri area has been returned to the Makuleke community.
  • No mining, farming or permanent residence may take place in the future without the permission of SANParks.
  • Should the land ever be put up for sale, SANParks will have a right of first refusal.
  • A contractual park has been established for a period of 50 years which can be reviewed after 25 years.  
  • SANParks is responsible for the day-to-day conservation activities while the community is responsible for all tourism activities which are being managed by the JMB (Joint Management Board).  
  • The area is known as the Makuleke region within the larger Kruger National Park. Some 5 000 hectares outside of the Kruger National Park, which have not previously been included in the park, will be returned to the community and incorporated into the park.

There are currently a number of other land claims against the Kruger National Park.

Note: The Greater Kruger Park refers to the combined conservation area of the Kruger National Park managed by SANParks and the adjacent privately owned game reserves – some of these share unfenced boundaries with the Kruger National Park to allow for the free movement of wildlife between them. The Kruger National Park also forms part of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park Initiative and shares an unfenced boundary with the Limpopo National Park in Mozambique.

Written by Wessel de Kock

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