Rural Change and Nature Conservation in Africa: A case Study from Swaziland
High population growth and deteriorating economic conditions imperil Africa's natural environment. Conservationists are trying to cope with the threat by working in rural communities. Yet it is unclear whether they can be effective when social and economic change in rural areas is so rapid. Northeast Swaziland provides a case study. The landscape has been transformed since the 1950s, and conservationists are the only people now giving nature conservation a high priority. Land uses incompatible with local nature reserves are supported because they provide jobs. Thus, conservationists find themselves facing a world where wildlife is increasingly devalued as the forces of change accelerate. This paper concludes: (1) conservationists must expand their influence into rural communities, (2) an integrated development and conservation plan is required for northeastern Swaziland, and (3) only the alleviation of poverty will secure the future of nature conservation in Swaziland as well as the rest of Africa.