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Bushman Paintings

One of the Drakensberg's greatest treasures is cultural. Some 40 000 individual rock paintings have been recorded at 600 different cave and overhang sites between Royal Natal and Bushman's Neck. Subjects range from animals (mainly eland) to humans, therianthropes to ox-wagons and mounted men with rifles. In Ndedema Gorge 3 900 paintings have been recorded at 17 sites. One of them, Sebaayeni Cave, contains 1 146 individual paintings. In the Cathedral Peak Mdelelelo Wilderness Area there are another 130 sites with a total of over 8 800 individual paintings. Other prime sites include the Main caves in Giant's Castle game reserve, Battle Cave in the Injasuti Valley and Game Pass Shelter in the Kamberg Nature Reserve.

The list of sites below is of rock art sites officially opened for public visitation. There are other rock art sites in the Drakensberg, if you stumble across one of them, please abide by the following code of conduct applicable to all rock art sites.

“Amafa/Heritage/Erfenis KwaZulu-Natal, as statutory body, is responsible to protect and manage rock art sites. Section 36 of the KwaZulu-Natal Heritage Act No. 4 of 2008 allows for the establishment of Amafa’s Access Policy applicable in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. Amafa has implemented a Senior Rock Art Officer, Ms. Rossouw, to liaise with all necessary interested and affected parties involved with the management of rock art sites on private farms, on communal/traditional land, inside protected areas and on commercial forestry land

No person may access any area within 50 meter of a rock art sties unless he/she adheres to the access and control measures instituted by Amafa KwaZulu-Natal in consultation with the land owner or manager. Visitors may only visit rock art sites that are officially open for public visitation and they must either have a permit or be accompanied by an Amafa accredited custodian or guide depending on the management arrangements at each site. All of the open sites have a management plan and trained guides or custodians that will accompany the guests to the rock art site, relate the code of conduct and that would supervise the visitors’ behaviour.

The following is prohibited at rock art sites:

  • Touching the paintings.
  • Leaning anything against the paintings.
  • Pouring liquid onto the paintings; this is an act of deliberate defacement.
  • Drawing or scratching on the paintings or rock face and decorating or damaging the walls of the site.
  • Stirring up dust when walking through the sites.
  • Removing any artefacts or stone tools.
  • Camping in or near sites with paintings.
  • Littering, making fires or using candles near rock art sites.

Any person who contravenes both provincial and national legislation will be liable for prosecution under section 35.4.a of the National Heritage Resources Act No. 25 of 1999 that states: “No person may, without a permit issued by the responsible heritage resources authority – (a) destroy, damage, excavate, alter, deface or otherwise disturb any archaeological or palaeontological site or any meteorite;”

Penalties for contravention of this section includes: “A fine or imprisonment for a period of three years or to both such fine and imprisonment”.