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Kruger’s Contested Borderlands

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Twin City took over the leasehold of the 8,000ha Mooiplaas reserve from private investors, and consolidated it into Karangani Game Reserve. Image by Filipa Domingues. Mozambique, 2018.

Twin City took over the leasehold of the 8,000ha Mooiplaas reserve from private investors, and consolidated it into Karangani Game Reserve. Image by Filipa Domingues. Mozambique, 2018.

Buffer zones along the border of Kruger National Park target wildlife poaching. Displaced communities say it’s a land grab by rich foreigners aided by corrupt politicians. Estacio Valoi investigates.

Massingir district, covering some 580,000ha on the Mozambican side of the border with South Africa, is notorious for its wildlife poachers. An estimated 90% of the  3,960 rhinos poached in the Kruger National Park since 2010 were killed by Mozambican insurgents entering the park across the border, rangers say.

South African conservationists and tourism businesses are developing land on the Mozambican side of the border in an effort to create an anti-poaching buffer zone along the 360km-long fence, to protect the rhinos and elephants which in recent years have been increasingly targeted by the poachers.

Now communities who have had to make way for the buffer zone are accusing the companies of grabbing land to create eco-cocoons for the mega-rich. The South Africans are, villagers claim, being helped by the son of a former Mozambican president and local politicians, through a combination of bribes, failed promises and deliberately stoked land conflicts.

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