Food relief for rural communities isolated near game reserves

By Sukaina Ishmail Time of article published Jun 29, 2020

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Cape Town – Rural communities surrounding popular game reserves in the country are experiencing major job losses due to the slump in tourism, so an initiative was started to alleviate hunger by donating meals.

The wildlife food initiative was started to help those in these areas affected by the pandemic. Many depend on employment in the tourism conservation sector and have experienced job losses.

Nkombe Rhino founding director Joe Pietersen said: “The biggest impact on wildlife will come due to the job losses, as many people who are employed through tourism and conservation have households which depend on their employment. This has a big impact on possible ‘bushmeat poaching’, where hungry people go after wildlife for food.”

Zululand and Limpopo have been assisted, and the Eastern Cape will be assisted next week. The Western Cape was also on the list. However, the majority of wildlife parks were situated in the other provinces.

The feeding initiative is being supported by Project Rhino, Kingsley Holgate Foundation, Nkombe Rhino and artist Andries Botha.

The group has donated 250000 meals. They provide pre-cooked porridge to ensure that people are given a meal with a shelf life of up to six months, especially in areas where access to a refrigerator can be difficult.

Botha said: “The scope of this problem is so vast, rural communities have always been in a vicarious financial situation. Most of the breadwinners are in the cities and it is often women who remain reminded to look after the children. They are highly at risk because there is no income.” Botha said there were people who hadn’t eaten for a couple of days in the rural communities.

The lockdown and collapse of the economy had major implications on the vulnerable South Africans.

Pietersen said: “The biggest impact for these communities compared to urban communities is employment and alternative employment options due to it being so far away from city centres.”

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