South African conservation
At the beginning of the 1900s, there were serious concerns about how wildlife in South Africa had been devastated by uncontrolled hunting. The man who became the Kruger National Park's first warden noted that in 1902 there were no black rhinoceros left on the land, no elephant, no eland, no hartebeest and no ostrich.
Yet today South Africa is ranked among the world's mega-diverse countries. Some say it is the world's third richest country in terms of sheer numbers of species. Covering only 2% of the Earth's surface area, South African conservation punches well above its weight in almost all natural divisions.
And South Africa's wildlife conservation policies rank among the most progressive in the world. There is an underlying philosophy that people should benefit in tangible ways from conservation.
For example, since 1994 government has combined the protection of natural capital with job creation. The Working for Water initiative, for example, employs the poorest people to chop out alien plants threatening ecosystems and rivercourses.
South African animal conservation has been dramatically boosted by allowing private ownership of wildlife. Private game parks now cover a far greater area than formally protected zones do - the combination of both protects 20% of South Africa's land.
But perhaps the most exciting innovation in South African conservation is best illustrated by the freshly proclaimed Garden Route National Park.
It combines two existing national parks (Tsitsikamma and Wilderness) with protected lake areas, indigenous forest and river catchment protection zones. This new policy of bio-regionalism is being called 'conservation without fences or boundaries', and links all protected landscapes along natural corridors. It marks the beginning of a new era in South Africa conservation.