The Wildlife Economy focus of the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), primarily put into practice by SANParks, is centered on the sustainable utilisation of indigenous biological resources.  It offers broad-based job creation opportunities in the fight against poverty and unemployment. In the Greater Kruger landscape the Environmental Monitors (EM) are co-ordinated by the Kruger to Canyons Biosphere Region offices in Hoedspruit. 

The initiative as a whole seeks to avert threats to existing land use options, including threats from pests and disease, climate change, land degradation, water stress (quantity and quality) as well as threats to the human quality of life.  It is intended that this economy should strive for potential benefits from eco-tourism, co-managed conservation areas, infrastructural development options, service provision, and entrepreneurial opportunities.  Community-driven game breeding opportunities with Cape Buffalo, for example, hold great promise.

In a climate of degrading landscapes, jobs include:

  • Control of invasive species;
  • Rehabilitation of land;
  • Conservation of wetlands;
  • Management of wildfires;
  • Fencing and road construction;
  • Maintenance, game ranching, and many other initiatives.

The Environmental Monitors programme is one of the current flagship projects of the K2C. It is funded by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), implemented by SANParks Biodiversity Social Programmes (SANParks BSP) and managed by the K2C. 

Over 280 EM’s are spread throughout the Biosphere with host institutions such as Sabi, Sands Timbavati, Balule, University of Pretoria, Southern African Wildlife College, SAEON, Nourish and Hlokomela. The EM’s employed within each of these organisations act in various capacities that include objectives such as, environmental education, security (both armed and unarmed), and research support. 


The following are the primary objectives behind the Community-based Environmental Monitor Programme:

  • Strengthen capacity and improve skills to promote and enhance (at a regional scale) biodiversity and ecosystem services, by supporting strategically identified projects and programs (e.g. monitoring of river health, Invasive Alien Species control, waste management, veterinary health, protected area management effectiveness, capacity building and awareness; natural resource use and community engagement; support to relevant conservation research and training institutions);
  • Provide capacity/institutional support to the respective Host Institutions (HI) mandates to enable biodiversity and ecosystem services (selected projects/programmes);
  • Provide capacity building, co-learning and skills transfer to EMs and to HI’s;
  • Employ EMs to assist in awareness and training within local communities;
  • Promote public-private collaboration.