In many countries within Africa, cattle and livestock are integral to the local people’s way of life. These animals are recognised as being culturally important symbols, a source of food and they help to generate income when sold in local markets. The problem is that for so long, cattle grazing and wildlife conservation has been seen as being mutually exclusive, but thanks to the Herding 4 Health programme initiated by Peace Parks Foundation and Conservation International, the narrative is beginning to change.
The Herding 4 Health programme has already been successfully rolled out across various countries including South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique, but today Community Development Manager Kabika Kumoyo, takes us along to visit communities within the Simalaha Community Conservancy to see how the programme is being received.
Director of the Herding 4 Health programme, Dr. Jacques van Rooyen, is on the ground in Simalaha showing the herders how to set up a predator-proof boma. These bomas can house 600 cattle and are placed in degraded areas so that the dung and urine of the snoozing, ruminating cattle can fertilise the land and help it recover. Hooves break the surface, urine and dung fertilise the soil, so denuded areas are left to rest and recover. This is very similar to the natural movement of wild ungulates such as the wildebeest of the Great Migration. By keeping predators at bay during the night, livestock is also protected and human-wildlife conflict minimised.
In another area within the Simalaha Community Conservancy, Kabika takes us to a meeting where the team is discussing the benefits of Herding 4 Health with community members, many of which have already shown a significant interest in joining the programme.
Born out of the need to address human-wildlife conflict within communities living in and adjacent to protected areas, the multi-faceted Herding 4 Health programme also addresses problems such as community politics and land degradation caused through overgrazing. It essentially aims to support community development whilst achieving conservation outcomes. The programme is a wonderful example as to how a dedicated government, NGOs and communities can all work together to create a better life for people living in rural areas, while achieving conservation outcomes.