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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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Safari Chic: Unveiling the Art of Stylish Adventure with The Safari Gals

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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.

The pangolins of Manyoni: A conservation success story

We can say with certainty that seeing one of the pangolins of Manyoni Private Game Reserve will be one of the most unforgettable experiences of your life. In just three years, the adult Temminck’s ground pangolins of Manyoni now total 14 and, to the absolute joy and pride of all, four pango-pups were born on the reserve last year. It is a huge triumph for pangolin conservation in Zululand, where the species has been locally extinct for almost 70 years. Accounting for about 20% of the entire illegal wildlife trade, pangolins are now the most trafficked mammals in the world. They are highly sought after for their meat and scales, which are made of keratin – the same material as your finger and toe nails. Rehabilitating and rewilding the pangolins of Manyoni The team at Manyoni work closely with the Zululand Conservation Trust, African Pangolin Working Group and the Johannesburg Wildlife Veterinary Hospital to establish a viable population of pangolins in the reserve. With the help of the South African Police Service (SAPS), the pangolins are confiscated from the illegal wildlife trade, arriving at the veterinary hospital in poor health due to the stress, dehydration and malnutrition suffered while with poachers. Once they have made a full recovery under the intensive care and nursing by the dedicated vet team, the pangolins begin a ‘soft-release program’ in Manyoni and other designated reserves. Each day, their dedicated ‘pangolin shepherd’ takes them out into a part of the reserve most suitable for them to explore and encounter ant and termite mounds. If necessary, their shepherd will show them how to break into the mounds, where they will then use their long (up to 70cm), sticky tongues to slurp up the juicy ants. During this first phase, the pangolins are monitored intensively to ensure they acclimatize, are able to find suitable food and gain enough weight before they are released fully. The soft release also provides an important and unique opportunity for research as little is known about these intriguing creatures. It takes two months on average for pangolins to be ready for the ‘hard release’ when they will go into the reserve equipped with a tracking device to allow the team to monitor and protect them. The pangolin walking experience This ground-breaking conservation program is resulting in a thriving – and growing – population of pangolins in Manyoni. It is providing a second chance for previously poached pangolins and contributing to the survival of the species. The pangolin program is financed solely from donor funding through the Zululand Conservation Trust. The tags, telemetry equipment, veterinary costs, vehicles and fuel, and salaries for the pangolin monitoring team are all vital but extremely costly. You can help give rescued Temminck’s ground pangolins another chance at a happy life by booking a pangolin walking experience. This is an amazing opportunity to see a pangolin first-hand as you walk with a pangolin and its shepherd during a monitoring session. Please note that this activity costs R1000 and is subject to availability. If you would like to add the pangolin walking experience to your stay with us, we suggest booking it in advance to make sure you don’t miss out. Enquire further with our Reservations Team when booking your Rhino Sands safari or book directly with the Zululand Conservation Trust here.

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