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    Since its proclamation in 1912, the Mkhuze Game Reserve has had a troubled existence. Shortly after its establishment, the first of many attempts to do away with the area as a wildlife sanctuary was made and these attempts were to continue for the next sixty years. Envious eyes were soon cast on the new reserve and the first battle that had to be won was against those who saw the reserve as a source of Nagana; an excuse for the wholesale slaughter of the game. Having successfully overcome the Nagana challenge, the earlier problem of illegal settlement and livestock incursions into the reserve made its reappearance and this is a problem that is still with us today.

    In the early sixties, legislators wanted to exchange Mkhuze for the Corridor to link the Umfolozi and Hluhluwe Game Reserves and this was another attempted raid on the integrity of the reserve that had to be averted if the reserve was to survive. Shortly after this, the Jozini Dam was built and the perceived possibilities for agriculture in the reserve, on the Makatini Flats and elsewhere, again led to Mkhuze being considered for deproclamation.

    In all of the efforts to abolish the reserve, the goodwill of many of the public officials involved in the official debates, and the rationalization of what was best for the area and for the country prevailed. As a result, South Africa has managed to retain this magnificent area as a natural sanctuary, with its vastly increased potential for tourism.

    Old battles have been fought and won, but new challenges and threats to the welfare of Mkhuze lie ahead. Poaching in the reserve is as rife as ever, as is the incursion of domestic stock. Land claims against the reserve have been lodged and these will require judicious handling.  The issue is a sensitive one. Let us hope that the same good sense will prevail as was the case in the past when the reserve was saved from serious butchering. Hopefully, there will be the realization that, by retaining Mkhuze as a game reserve, far more can be achieved to benefit and uplift the local community than by apportioning the land for settlement. Significant advantages can filter through to the whole community from tourism, as has already been demonstrated. These will far outweigh any short-term benefits from meeting land claims. The final battle for Mkhuze must not be lost.

    I have been involved with Mkhuze for almost forty years of my life, first as a ranger stationed there in the sixties and then continuously through the balance of my 30-year career with the Natal Parks Board. The reserve has never lost its fascination or any of its magic for me. On my first afternoon in Mkhuze, Singie Denyer and Peter Potter took me on an orientation  drive around the reserve. The impact that the reserve made on me so long ago was immediate and the attraction that I feel for the area now is as strong as ever. The years that I spent working in Mkhuze, I consider being the most important and interesting of my life and I believe that they were formative years in the history of the reserve and that the story needs to be told. All too often, important information on an area is lost, before it can be recorded. From a relatively unknown and little-visited reserve, Mkhuze has become one of the most popular of South Africa's game reserves. It is sobering to think how close it came to being abandoned. Tribute must be paid to all those who fought for the retention of this jewel of a reserve, often under trying and difficult circumstances.

    The writing of this book has been something of a personal journey back into time for me - an experience that not many people have the good fortune to have. Reading through my reports and those of other past rangers who worked in Mkhuze, I have recalled faces long forgotten, relived many of the experiences that I had and rekindled memories of the many happy days that I spent there.

    I feel greatly privileged to have been fortunate enough to maintain my association with the reserve for so long. Forty four years ago, I could stand on the crest of the Nhlonhlela Hill and take in the timeless vista of the pan. I could look down onto its reedbeds and fever trees, to the bushveld and beyond, as it stretched to the soft blue horizon of the Lebombo Mountains - and I can still do that today! Who can ask for more than that in life?