GNF - Biodiversity Conservation and Poverty Reduction in South Africa

Linking Biodiversity Conservation and Poverty Reduction



South Africa’s wild animals are of enormous importance for the balance of their ecosystem. The on-going biodiversity loss through habitat destruction, competing with humans, habitat fragmentation and poaching severely threatens this balance. But also from the economic point of view the animals become increasingly important as tourism is an essential source of income for South Africa. Especially rare animal species such as rhinos and wild dogs with high tourism potential benefit from this circumstance, because due to their economic importance their conservation will be easier to realize. The protection of these so-called flag ship species contributes to the protection of the whole area including a large number of animal and plant species.


Against this background, the Global Nature Fund, in conjunction with Deutsche Umwelthilfe (German Environmental Aid Organisation) and its local partner, Wildlands Conservation Trust, initiated a project linking biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction through the development of an environmentally sound wildlife tourism.


The project area, the Somkhanda Community Games Reserve in the north of KwaZulu Natal, is located in one of South Africa’s poorest regions. Over three quarters of the inhabitants have no regular income, HIV disease is widespread and the education opportunities with only one secondary school are insufficient. The Somkhanda Reserve is owned by the Gumbi Clan, and in 2010, was officially designated as a nature reserve in order to preserve its unique eco-system. This project providing both the urgently needed income opportunities as well as sustainable protection of the area’s biodiversity is being implemented together with the local people.

Project Activities

The African Wild Dogs vanished from the area shall be reintroduced and specially protected together with the black and white rhinos living there. Today less than 400 wild dogs are living in South Africa. Therefore the protection of this newly introduced wild dog population is of particular importance. Within the framework of the project „Rhino protection in South Africa“, the Global Nature Fund is active in the area since the beginning of 2012 and uses the latest technologies to protect the critically endangered White and Black Rhinos from poaching. Management plans for these three animal species as well as the entire area will be implemented, which in combination with a specifically developed eco-tourism concept optimally regulates the protection and sustainable use of the Somkhanda Reserve. Particular importance is attached to keeping the impact of tourism on nature as low as possible.


To ensure that these activities can be continued after the end of the project, several members of the Gumbi Clan will be trained to run small tourism businesses, qualified as a gamekeeper or a tourist guide as well as trained in the management of the nature reserve. Recognising the intrinsic value of both the wildlife and nature reserve is an important aspect of the comprehensive training. It is to be expected that many more people will benefit from the increasing number of tourists and earn a regular income. As healthy rhino and wild dog populations, which are very attractive to tourists, are directly linked to the income generation, this contributes to ensure the sustainable protection of these species as well as the whole area including its biodiversity. Additionally, within the scope of an environmental education programme, particularly children will be sensitized for to protection of nature and biodiversity.

Somkhanda Game Reserve is one of the 100 Greenest Holiday Destinations world-wide

Sustainable Destinations Global Top 100

 African Wild Dog
 Seeking for wild animals
 Black Rhino: Mother with calf
 Wild animals at a water point
 Giraffes are one hotspot of the wildlife in South Africa

Official Project Titel:



Project Duration:


Project Country:





Project Partners: 

Linking Biodiversity Conservation and Poverty Reduction in South Africa


April 2012 – September 2014


South Africa


German Federal Ministry for Economic Coooperation and Development (BMZ), Foundation Ursula Merz


Wildlands Conservation Trust



This project is supported by the Federal Ministry for Economic Coooperation and Development (BMZ), Germany.

The Foundation Ursula Merz provides the co-financing of the project.

Further Information about the project area Somkhanda Game Reserve is available under:

 German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)