On a recent fact-finding mission to Mozambique, Peace Parks Foundation CEO, Werner Myburgh and Chief Development Officer, Lilian Spijkerman were in Limpopo National Park where they meet up with the Herding 4 Health team who are working on a holistic grazing programme.

Like many communities throughout Africa, livestock and agriculture are massively important to people who live in and around the remote Limpopo National Park. The cattle provide milk, serve as a source of protein, generate an income when sold in markets, and are even used as a form of currency in some African cultures. So, it goes without saying that these communities and their livestock are extremely dependent on natural resources and this is where Peace Parks works with the people to find eco-friendly and sustainable ways to use what nature provides.

One of the ways that this has been done, is through the Herding 4 Health programme, a community-driven approach that aims to address the challenges that farmers face when living in and around protected conservation areas. Not only does it promote conservation, but it also helps to support the local communities and help lift them out of poverty through employment opportunities and additional means of income.

One of the challenges that Herding 4 Health aims to overcome is mitigating human-wildlife conflict arising from cattle being preyed upon by predators such as hyena and lion. The programme also looks at land degradation caused by overgrazing and minimising the risk of bovine illnesses such as foot-and-mouth disease. One of the most rewarding solutions that are helping to keep many of these problems in check, is the training and employment of ‘eco-warriors’ – community members who are selected to be the custodians of the Herding 4 Health programme in their area.

Thanks to dedicated efforts from the Southern African Wildlife College and SA College for Tourism, these eco-warriors are taught specialised skills such as the planning and implementation of grazing plans, professional herding techniques, administration skills, how to look after cattle and tracking to name a few.

It is great to see that the Herding 4 Health programme in Limpopo National Park is working so well. It has led to fewer instances of human-wildlife conflict by keeping the animals safe in predator-proof bomas at night, assisting communities through employment opportunities and income generation, as well as allowing the restoration of land which keeps the ecosystem healthy.

The Herding 4 Health programme that is currently being implemented within communities living within and around Limpopo National Park, is a shining example as to how a dedicated government, NGO’s such as Peace Parks Foundation and Conservation International, and communities can create a better life for people living in rural areas, while promoting the restoration of natural areas.