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End of the game

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IT was a time to rejoice. It seemed to be the only logical way forward. The path had been laid out for us. The truth shone as clear as an unmuddied lake. We were bright-eyed and idealistic. Inspired and energetic. A brave new world. It was the year 1995.
I had just joined Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC), a WWF-funded NGO that was charged with the responsibility of empowering local rural communities through conservation. The goal was to establish communal conservancies that would enable the people to take ownership of their wildlife and natural resources.
The year 1995 was also a time of good rain. The best in human memory. Springbok fawns abounded across the veld.
It was with pride that I drove my bakkie from village to village, seeking out the community game guards. I was amazed by the beauty of the landscape and the free-ranging wildlife. I was especially proud of the panda sticker on the bakkie door.
For me too it was a new beginning. I hailed from the Kruger Park where local people were kept away from wildlife with fences and guns. I was born into and benefited from an oppressive system. It was time to make amends. Give something back.
We were going to make impoverished rural communities benefit from their wildlife. At the same time we were going to conserve that same wildlife. I was part of that process.

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