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Hluhluwe Community Indigenous Nursery Project 

Hluhluwe – Umolozi Game Park, Kwazulu–Natal Nature Conservation Service (Ezemvelo) 

Background of the project 

Traditional care is an important part of rural life in KwaZulu-Natal. The availability of “western” health care in many rural areas is inadequate and traditional healers are more numerous and more accessible. The ratio of healers to people in KwaZulu - Natal is 1:500 whilst the ratio of western medical doctor is 1:17 500. 

Traditional remedies rely heavily on natural resources. Without conservation measures and the promotion of sustainable use in community areas, the future availability of medicinal plants is at risk. Amongst plant gatherers, the collecting and selling of medicinal plants has become highly commercial and harvesting of medicinal plants continues unabated. Fortunately there is an increasing awareness amongst traditional healers and tribal leaders in rural areas, regarding the threat facing this ever-diminishing resource and the effect it will inevitably have on the neighboring communities. 

In March 1994 a funding proposal was submitted by the former Natal Parks Board to the Provincial Administration to start an external pilot project aimed at conserving and promoting sustainable use of indigenous medicinal plants in communities adjacent to Hluhluwe Game Park. Funding was approved and the project commenced in July 1995 as a partnership between former Natal Parks Board (presently KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service) and the neighboring communities. 

Since the start of the project, several community medicinal gardens have been established. In addition an indigenous plant nursery has also been established within Hluhluwe – Umfolozi Game Park where gathered indigenous material is propagated for re-introduction into the community. In order to generate income and make project self-sustainable, plants from the nursery are available to visitors to the park, local nurseries and other interested parties. 

Beneficiaries of the project 

The local population, who consult traditional healers and are therefore the end users of medicinal plants, are the major beneficiaries. In addition, conservation aims are furthered through sustainable utilization of natural resources inside and outside of protected areas. Through facilitation and support for traditional health care and therefore alleviating pressure on hospital, clinics, etc., the Department of Health is another major beneficiary. 

The traditional healers also benefit through growing their own medicinal plant requirements. This provides them with an access to continual, fresh supply that is legal, relatively cheaper and income generating. 

A series of secondary benefits have been achieved, such as: sale of medicinal plants, vegetable production for home consumption and resale, planting of fruit trees, etc. 


The pilot project has been successful in achieving an understanding and awareness of the vulnerability amongst traditional healers of medicinal plants, establishing medicinal gardens outside protected areas as well as the formalization and networking amongst traditional healers. Community partners and local tribal authorities have demonstrated full support for the project and at present four interested groups of healers are successfully running medicinal gardens in neighboring, non- protected areas. 

This project has won two national Peace Gardens Awards for excellence in 1996 and 1997. 

At National, Provincial and local level there is growing recognition that this type of project can contribute immensely to the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable living in areas that are not formally protected. 


It is proposed to expand the pilot project and establish another 8-10 medicinal gardens or farms in the period of next three years. This would include iziNyanga (traditional healers) and iSangoma (diviners) as well as other interested groups or individuals from another eight Tribal Authorities areas around Hluhluwe - Umfolozi Game Park. 

These gardens would serve to provide medicinal plant supplies to the groups involved as well as training points for other interested groups and individuals wishing to establish these types of gardens or farms through out the area. 

Due to the large area covered by this project, one of our most pressing needs for the continuation of the project is transport. This can be facilitated either by a provision of funds for a vehicle or by covering costs of transport for 3000 km per month. 

The cost of establishing a garden or farm is approximately R3000.00 (approximately USD 600) and our estimated costs for training and field trips are R10 000 per year (approximately USD 2000). 

At the moment, the project is employing two members of staff – a project coordinator and a nursery employee. With availability of new funding, it is our vision to employ a project manager from the local community and provide him/her with training so he/she is able to run the project within two years. 

If you require more information or detail funding proposal or wish to make a contribution towards our work, please contact the project coordinator on the above address. 

Contact: Nikolina K. Drysdale, Project Coordinator, Hluhluwe Community Indigenous Nursery Project, Post Box 692, Hlabisa, KwaZulu-Natal, 3937 South Africa, Tel./Fax +27.358.381155, e-mail drysdale@iafrica.com

Basketry Ecology:
a Museum and Market-Based Global Survey 

"Basketry ecology" is the interrelationship of baskets, the plant materials they are made from, and the humans who make and use them, as well as the environment shared by all three. This survey is gathering data from museum collections, from the ethnographic and botanical literature, and from contemporary weavers and basketry dealers, collectors, etc., to produce an overview of basketry, including representative basketry plants and basket-making cultures for all major geographic areas of the world. It is meant to serve as a model for combining extant scientific data from museum collections and the literature with knowledge gained from present day weavers. The goal is to develop a better understanding of the relationship of baskets and weavers to the plants they employ, to explore patterns of use and harvest of basketry plants, and thus to address timely issues of interest to weavers, collectors, and community development and conservation agencies. The resulting synthesis will weave the seemingly disparate threads of basketry into more than just women's work, but rather into an important contribution by native women to traditional resource management and the conservation of wild-harvested plant resources. This will, in turn, lead to more detailed field research and discussion of basketry ecology.

The survey has begun with a literature review, market survey and examination of basketry collections at the Peabody Museum of Harvard University, one of the best basketry collections in the world. Baskets, both historic and contemporary, made from a variety of plants by diverse cultural groups from around the world, will be studied further. The taxonomic identity of the plants they are made from will be determined, along with their habitat, distribution, conservation status, etc. Essential ethnographic data for the cultures producing these baskets will likewise be recorded. I estimate that several hundred basketry plants will be identified in the course of this research; concise treatments, with photographs, of 100 basketry plants and cultures will be featured in a book to be published at the end of this initial project. Basketry plants to be included in this book will be those that are taxonomically or ecologically distinct, that have uncommon harvest practices, that are of conservation concern, or whose baskets were or are culturally important, especially those that are presently traded in international or national markets.

Any information about which plant species are being used to make what sort of baskets by whom, and what the baskets are being used for, and any sort of information on gathering practices, would be greatly appreciated. I would be interested in receiving pertinent literature, including difficult to obtain texts from foreign sources; photographs of baskets and basketry plants, and their harvest, production, use and sale; and baskets, old or new, with documentation. Contact information for knowledgeable people; photographs and baskets with accompanying detail; literature, whether of scientific or popular nature; and of course, any sort of underwriting (at present, I have minimal funding for this project), will be graciously accepted and acknowledged.

As part of the study, I will seek to determine the one hundred or so baskets most traded in the world (in international or regional markets), link these to historic baskets from collections, and determine the resource management and conservation of the species used as materials. To do this correctly, I am trying to acquire contemporary baskets as gifts or at local market prices. These baskets will be deposited as vouchers in a collection that eventually will be given to a major institution (such as the Peabody Museum of Harvard University, Smithsonian Institution or the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew). Any help in obtaining these baskets, accompanied by detailed collection data, would be much appreciated.

Contact: Elaine Joyal, , 333 East Balboa Drive, Tempe, AZ 85282 USA; Tel. +1.602.8942287, e-mail joyal@asu.edu (Elaine Joyal is Adjunct Professor, Department of Anthropology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85287-2402 USA).

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