Somkhanda’s exciting journey continues
THE northern Zululand Somkhanda Community Game Reserve, owned by the Emvokweni Community Trust (ECT) and comanaged with Wildlands (a programme of the Wildtrust), keeps moving ahead.
Since its establishment in 2005, it has achieved major milestones and has in the process earned its ‘Big Five’ reserve status.
Currently, over 80 community members are employed on a full-time basis and this number is set to increase with new plans in the pipeline.
An exciting new development for the reserve, sees the establishment of the Somkhanda Community Conservation Centre.
The joint project of Wildtrust and ECT has the vision of providing a vibrant learning, capacity building and ecotourism space.
It is expected that it will underwrite the viability of the reserve for its future generations, ensuring the empowerment and upliftment of the Gumbi people.
Wildlands Executive Director Dr Roelie Kloppers says, ‘Somkhanda is an example of what can be achieved in rural land reform and transformation in South Africa.
‘The project is led by a visionary leadership who want to make a contribution to conservation and at the same time create wealth for their community.
‘We are extremely fortunate and honoured to be associated with this success story and excited to see it develop over the next 10 years’.
Following the recent signing of a new 10year agreement with the ECT, Wildlands are positive that all the important conservation work that has already been achieved on the reserve will continue, cementing it firmly as a signature Wildtrust bio-diversity economy project.
‘This will promote growth which will see the Gumbi community gain more access to the reserve as well as open more ecotourism and education opportunities,’ said Wildlands Wildlife Economy Deputy Director, Dave Moldenhauer.
Somkhanda will continue to offer practical and theoretical learning, across a wide range of conservation management and ecological research modules.
It will host group tours for academic field trips and youth development as well as volunteer and internship opportunities through an academically stimulating programme that is insightful and dynamic. This will be led by the Wildtrust Learning and Development programme to further shape Somkhanda into a sustainable development space.
‘Through the various training modules we will provide, we will seek to address a shift in values, thinking and knowledge that is crucial in making the changes sustainable in the long term.
‘We believe that this will provide Somkhanda the capacity it requires to lead them into a sustainable future,’ said Manqoba Sabela, Wildtrust Deputy Director (Training).
Somkhanda has a population of rhino which are de-horned to deter poachers Larry Bentley
African wild dogs are a popular sighting on the reserve