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The Power of Local Community Support for Manyoni

Game reserves, like Manyoni, are not just patches of wilderness dedicated to wildlife conservation; they are vital ecosystems that contribute to biodiversity preservation and environmental education of those that come from far to visit them and those that are right at their doorstep. While the efforts of dedicated conservationists and organizations play a significant role, the importance of community involvement in game reserves cannot be overstated. Recognising this, Manyoni led by the Zululand Conservation Trust engages with and supports neighbouring communities through various initiatives. This ensures the best outcomes for all – people, wildlife and the environment. Zululand Conservation Trust The mission of the Zululand Conservation Trust is a commitment to the conservation of endangered species whilst maintaining and supporting partnerships with neighbouring communities. The Trust recognises the fundamental need to involve, empower, educate and support local communities, in order to achieve effective and lasting conservation. Like much of rural South Africa, Zululand has high rates of poverty and unemployment, which are further exacerbated by low levels of basic education. The ZCT aims to bridge the major education, skill and poverty gap between these outlying communities and the rest of the province through a series of projects aimed at poverty relief, holistic education and learner support, basic household necessities resourcing, and food security. Below we have highlighted a few of the many community upliftment projects the ZCT supports. Projects for positive impact Creche support: ZCT currently provides ongoing support to three crèches, two of which the Trust built, in neighbouring communities. Each crèche receives support in the form of monthly food supplies, donations and general maintenance of the facilities. These facilities provide a safe space for local children to play, learn and enjoy a warm, nutritious daily meal. Food security: The Mandlakazi Food Security Project is a donor-funded project that provides schools with a 10m x 15m food garden. Hardy vegetables such as spinach, cabbage, tomatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, peppers are planted in each garden. This is to improve diets and provide the necessary nutrients needed by young growing children. Matric learner support: ZCT assists the principal of Mandlakazi High School with the running costs of her annual Matric Camp, which provides Grade 12 learners a safe and quiet space to study together, receive extra lessons, and enjoy three meals a day. Looking ahead At the same time, ZCT endeavours to grow within local people the same understanding and love for conservation that their team has. Long-term, ZCT hopes to have their communities more likely to support initiatives aimed at safeguarding wilderness areas, becoming the guardians of their natural heritage, ensuring that the reserves remain safe havens for wildlife. And, for the tourism associated with these reserves to create direct job and small business opportunities and greater economic growth for the region. Each guest’s nightly conservation levy goes directly to supporting the Zululand Conservation Trust, including its many community projects.

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