The Drakensberg is one of South Africa’s great natural treasures.
It is World Heritage site recognised by the United Nation’s cultural body – UNESCO.
This is how UNESCO describes the park:
The site has exceptional natural beauty in its soaring basaltic buttresses, incisive dramatic cutbacks, and golden sandstone ramparts as well as visually spectacular sculptured arches, caves, cliffs, pillars and rock pools. The site’s diversity of habitats protects a high level of endemic and globally important plants. The site harbors endangered species such as the Cape vulture (Gyps coprotheres) and the bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus).
Yet walking across it one now finds signs like these:
This one was close to the Champagne Castle resort. It was high on the plateau, far above any habitation.
A bit lower down there is another:
…and then this really threatening one:
In its discussions of the threats to the National Park UNESCO had this to say:
“The uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, composed of 12 protected areas established between 1903 and 1973 has a long history of effective conservation management. Covering 242,813 ha in area, it is large enough to survive as a natural area and to maintain natural values. It includes 4 proclaimed Wilderness areas almost 50% of the Park, while largely unaffected by human development, the property remains vulnerable to external land uses including agriculture, plantation forestry and ecotourism, although agreements between Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and local stakeholders have been implemented to manage these threats”.
So how has an area of such natural beauty, apparently available to all South Africans and treasured by the whole world apparently become privatised?