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Swaziland's Conservation Success Story: Discover the 90's

Posted on: Thursday, July 24, 2014
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This July Swaziland will celebrate half a century of conservation, led and first developed by the pioneer and globally renowned Ted Reilly. With a whole host of events and activities planned, it’s set to be a fantastic couple of months in Swaziland’s MlilwaneHlane and Mkhaya, run by Big Game Parks. We’ll be covering week by week the main events through the decades as they progressed, ultimately changing the face of Swaziland’s wildlife. You can read the full article on the events and promotions here

This week we’re discovering the ins and outs of Swaziland’s Nature Conservation during the 1990s.

The latter part of the 1980’s was overshadowed by heavy poaching. The Government responded accordingly, and in 1991 the Game Act Amended with particular regards to the rhino population. However, 1992 saw an even more uncontrollable threat to Swaziland’s wildlife in the form of a devastating drought. Continuing for over a year, it saw the Tssesebe almost die out, the rhino population decrease further and 200,00 cattle perish.

However, the latter part of the 1990’s saw Swaziland’s conservation efforts become successful once again. With the proclamation of Mantenga Nature Reserve, Swaziland saw the reintroduction of a number of wonderful animals, including the lion, cheetah, leopard and the final introduction of elephants to Hlane and Mkhaya. This combined with the Lumbombo Conservancy launch, the stopping of green chert mining in Malolotja and delegation of Game Act and International Conventions on wildlife administration and management to Big Game Parks, Swaziland was once again being celebrated as pioneers in Africa’s conservation efforts.

The 90’s at a glance 

1990 Petros Ngomane (4th) Rupert Foundation Gold Medal for outstanding achievements in Nature Conservation

1991 Game Act Amended in response to heavy poaching of all descriptions - especially rhinos.

1992 Brown Rhino – infamous case and public outrage – amended schedules to Game Amendment Act. Dehorning and confinement of Hlane rhinos to a high security area. First rhino poached at Mkhaya. Petros Ngomane: failed petrol bomb attack in his quarters on Hlane, as he slept.

5 April - Opening of Bhubesi camp – SA High Commission’s contribution to Hlane

1992 April - Big Bend Shoot out. Poaching brought under control. Re-introduction of Sable Antelope to Mkhaya. TER charged with contempt of court by the Chief Justice David Hull based on reading the press – acquitted.

1992-1993 - Most devastating of all droughts; Tssesebe almost died out, rhinos died, 200 000 cattle died, game displaced at waterhole by relentless insurgence of cattle. Livingstone's Eland introduced. His Majesty changes policy to allow culling for population management reasons. November – Jubela Reilly joins Ranger force full time. Non-Bailable Offences Act enacted and included Section 8 of the Game Act among other very serious crimes. December – last rhino poached until 2011.


1994 09 February - Lion reintroduced from Kruger to Hlane. Final introduction of elephants to Hlane and Mkhaya from KMP. Mantenga Nature Reserve proclaimed. Sondzela Opens – first Backpackers in Swaziland. 

1995 Second re-introduction of Cheetah, from Namibia to Hlane. June - Leopard reintroduced to Hlane from Namibia. Six Black rhino introduced to Mkhaya from Mfolozi, sponsored by Republic of China on Taiwan, British Government, Engen and others.

1997 HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands contributes land to Mkhaya. Opening of Sangweni by His Majesty King Mswati lll.First elephant calf born from re-introduced elephant at Mkhaya. His Majesty King Mswati III becomes Patron of Mlilwane and Mkhaya.

1998 Big Game Parks challenges Minister on green chert mining in Malolotja - His Majesty stops the mine proceeding. Investiture of TER to UNEP Roll Of Honour (Global 500). Royal Command – transfer of Game Act to King’s Office (by government gazette). Game Act & International Conventions on wildlife administration and management delegated to Big Game Parks. October - Reilly’s Rock opens to the public with Prince Bernhard as its first guest. 

1999 29 April - Lubombo Conservancy launch. Opened by Dr Anton Rupert. 2nd November – Prince Bernhard visits again. 

1999/2000 Expansion of Mlilwane's southern boundary and Sondzela. Confiscated stone age artifacts, taken near Hlane.

Keep an eye on out our site for the next instalment of Swaziland’s 50 year history! You can view an over view of all events by clicking here.

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