Somkhanda’s ex­cit­ing jour­ney con­tin­ues

Zululand Observer - Monday - - ZO NEWS - Larry Bent­ley Fu­ture vi­sion Next phase

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.