Dedicated to wildlife conservation a number of the private lodges in the Sabi Sand Reserve have taken steps towards promoting sustainable practices and the well-being of not only the wildlife but the land and the communities that live in the area. The Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve is a magnificent Big Five 65 000 hectare game reserve that shares a border with the Kruger National Park. Visited by high numbers of tourists each year, a number of the safari lodges within the wildlife reserve have investigated the impact that tourism is having on the environment and have taken steps to counteract or reduce the stress placed on all the natural resources.
Conservation Initiatives in the Sabi Sands
On a clear missionThe Sabi Sand Reserve is an association that aims to promote and conserve the wildlife, flora and fauna in the area and to provide a wilderness sanctuary that protects and preserves every inhabitant within its borders.As a result the Sabi Sand Reserve has become known as the birthplace of sustainable wildlife tourism in the whole of Southern Africa.
Environmental management programsThe private lodges run a number of environmental management programs where they tackle problems such as alien plant control, wildlife diseases such as bovine TB and foot and mouth disease, soil erosion, wildlife densities in comparison to habitat availability and the control and prevention of bushveld fires.
Limited AccessAs the game reserve is private, visitors can only enter the wilderness area when they have a booking at one of the private lodges. This in turn helps to limit the influx of human beings into the area and the impact that they place on the environment. There is also a strict policy within the reserve that limits additional lodges being built on the land within certain space parameters, ensuring the number of visitors, bricks and concrete on the reserve does not increase beyond the land's capacity.
Grass Roots OutreachThe Sabi Sand Reserve lodges have also created a number of community outreach and upliftment programs and endeavour where possible to improve the living conditions, education and health of the local communities surrounding the reserve. Many of the lodge's also employ a large number of the community members, training them on a variety of useful skills and ensuring the community gains directly from the increase in tourism.
Using traditional skillsMost of the local people originate from the Shangaan tribe who are known to be skilled hunters and trackers. In order to make use of this unique skill set, many of the lodges hire these skilled trackers to track the animals during game drives and today they are valid members of the staff.
EcotourismBy hiring local community members, lodges also ensure that their guests have the opportunity to meet and interact with locals, helping them to gain a better insight into the lives, culture, history and traditions of the area. By speaking to the staff members visitors are able to form a lasting bond or connection to the land and leave with a greater understand of the way of the bush and the essence of Africa.
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