There is a common misconception that wildlife would be better off without humans. And in an ideal world, that might be true. However, the truth is that without tourism bringing in funding, conservation initiatives cannot be sustained.
The past few months have been challenging for most people and industries. With borders closing, flights cancelled, and most countries in a state of ‘lockdown’, tourism has undoubtedly been one of the hardest hit industries. At the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, many people panicked and cancelled their travel plans. This, combined with the fact that nobody is currently booking accommodation, caused a huge financial ripple effect which negatively impacted the conservation world. As funds dried up, organisations and lodges had to come up with innovative ways to continue to bring in money to sustain the various conservation projects on the go. Here are a few examples of how reserves and lodges have been doing this during lockdown:
Manyoni Private Game Reserve
Photo © Rhino Sands Safari Camp, a luxury tented safari lodge within Manyoni Private Game Reserve
Situated in northern KwaZulu Natal, Manyoni Private Game Reserve has a strong focus on protecting and managing endangered species and has multiple conservation projects on the go within the 23,000 hectares of magnificent Zululand wilderness. These include Wildlife ACT, Project Rhino, the Zululand Conservation Trust, and the Zululand Rhino Orphanage, to name just a few.
At the start of lockdown, Manyoni Reserve, and the lodges within in it, including Rhino River Lodge and Rhino Sands Safari Camp, responded by initially encouraging travellers who had already booked a stay within the reserve to postpone their trips rather than cancelling them. This was a wide-spread tactic within the tourism industry that saw a positive response with many people heeding the call. In addition to this, Manyoni also started a crowd funding campaign for the Zululand Conservation Trust which called for anyone who is in a position financially, to donate to this excellent cause. Watch the video below:
If you would like to contribute to this cause, here are the links:
As a registered non-profit organisation, the Zululand Conservation Trust can issue Section 18a Tax exempt certificates for all RSA donations made towards the conservation efforts of Manyoni. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Photo © Manyoni Private Game Reserve
Another great fundraising initiative which recently launched in Manyoni, is ‘Wild Again For 19’, in which, siblings, Amy and Josh Attenborough, will walk for 19 days through the reserve with nothing but the clothes on their backs and the items packed in their backpacks. During this time, they will document and share their experiences in the wild with the aim of bringing people closer to nature and inspiring people to care about the conservation of wild spaces.
All proceeds from this walk are going to the conservation and community projects of the Zululand Conservation Trust. If you would like to donate, please go visit https://zululandconservationtrust.org/ and click ‘donate’ and choose the cause Wild Again For 19 from the drop down.
Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill Bush Homes
Another example a safari property that has had to adapt to maintain their conservation initiatives, is Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill Bush Homes. This private reserve in the Waterberg is responsible for the creation of the Save the Waterberg Rhino foundation which is hailed as being one of the most effective anti-poaching organisations in South Africa. In order to raise funds to sustain the excellent work that is done, Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill Bush Homes has taken a slightly different approach. The owner of the property, Ant Baber, is rather skilled with a paintbrush and has been doing commissions for past guests. The money raised from these paintings has managed to cover the security costs for the net few months which is vital part of the work they do.
Photo © Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill Bush Homes
Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill Bush Homes is also running a raffle in which a £10 (approx. R200) donation will enter you in for a chance of winning a 3-night stay for 2 people at the lodge. There will also be 5 runner ups who will receive a beautiful print painted by Ant Baber of Erwin, one of the iconic rhinos in the reserve who recently passed away at the ripe old age of 40.
For more information or to enter the raffle, visit https://Givergy.uk/WaterbergRhinoPrizeDraw. Your £10 will help cover our rhino security costs in order protect these magnificent animals in our care.
These are just a few examples of the conservation fundraising initiatives that are currently underway. There are so many more! Almost every lodge, property, and destination has its own ways of getting through this difficult time. Creative limits have been pushed, and fresh ideas formed. We are confident that there is light at the end of the tunnel for the tourism and conservation industry. We will emerge stronger than ever.
When planning you next getaway post-lockdown, we would like to strongly encourage you to support establishments that are directly contributing to the local community and wildlife conservation. They need you now more than ever! Many places have even started encouraging people to book now for the end of the year, using risk-free booking policies to provide people with peace-of-mind. Rhino River Lodge, for example, has offered discounted rates to all South Africans who make a booking for before 12 December 2020. Some lodges, like Ghost Mountain Inn, have decided to sell discounted vouchers which are valid until the end of 2021. There are so many options out there at the moment! So, get inspired, stop delaying, and start planning your next bush break! The wilderness can’t wait to welcome you back.