Sustainability of Rock Art Tourism (2019-2020)

Rock art tourism management
A South Africa-France PROTEA research programme

In short

Rock art tourism management requires developing a holistic approach to the vulnerability of rock art sites. The aim of this project is to build a method to integrate the environmental and social parameters of threats to rock art sites; it was therefore proposed to cross two areas, the Drakensberg (where territorial dynamics were studied) and the Makgabeng (where community tourism is being developed). From this analysis, a reproducible and applicable analysis grid that integrates various threats to rock art sites open to the public will be developed.


SORAT project partners are Mélanie Duval (EDYTEM) and Catherine Namono (Rock Art Research Institute). Collaborators from South Africa include Filix Mosebedi (Makgabeng Community/UNISA) and Ndukuyakhe Ndlovu (University of Pretoria); while those from France include Stéphane Hoerlé (PACEA) and Anne Nivart (Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle). The project is supported by Programme PROTEA, a bilateral incentive Programme dedicated to strengthening the South Africa/ France collaborative research. It is co-funded by both the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Higher Education and Research from the French side, and the National Research Foundation from the South African side. Among other institutions, it is also supported by IFAS-Recherche.


The Sustainability of Rock Art Tourism project (SORAT) focuses on a comparison of rock art tourism on the Makgabeng Plateau, Limpopo Province, the Drakensberg, Kwazulu-Natal Province, South Africa and related areas in France.


Fieldwork in South Africa in April 2019 focused on interviews with various tourism stakeholders and the local community members on the Makgabeng plateau. This was to consider the different modalities and challenges to developing rock art tourism. Special thanks to Jonas Tlouamma (Blouberg Local Municipality) and Stanley Nkgwetjana (LEDET) for facilitating the success of this field work. Fieldwork in France in May 2019 focused on comparative analysis of rock art tourism in the Vézère Valley in southwestern France, one of the richest prehistorical regions of France.

These initiatives will lead to the publication of an assessment report to initiate and maintain sustainable rock art tourism on the plateau. In 2020, other academic papers will be submitted to international peer-reviewed journals for publication; and project feedback to the various stakeholders and the local community in the Makgabeng is envisaged.