Game parks with a conscience in the Eastern Cape

Posted by Marion Whitehead on 17 February 2011 Tags:, , ,

When you’re choosing which game reserve to visit, do you check their social responsibility credentials? Does it matter to you? It’s a growing factor in the overseas travel market, especially in Britain where environmental and social issues get a lot more attention than in South Africa.

These days, any game reserve worth its salt runs some kind of social responsibility programme. I visited private reserves in the Grahamstown area of the Eastern Cape looking for great winter specials for South African residents (LINK) and found they varied from a strong social responsibility ethic to a rather more limp-wristed approach.

Amakhala Game Reserve

This reserve is a member of Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa. The Amakhala Foundation helps fund a conservation education centre, supports a number of orphans and the Isipho HIV/Aids programme in Paterson, and is involved in a community craft initiative. Cebisa Ndima, the resident massage therapist at Safari Lodge whose studies were sponsored, is one of their success stories. Amakhala’s volunteer programme hosts paying guests from all over the world.

Kariega Game Reserve

This reserve is one of the largest employers in the Kenton-on-Sea area, with a staff of over 200 people. Paying volunteers wishing to gain experience in working on a reserve are accepted. The Kariega Foundation supports community projects at three local schools. River Lodge has achieved the Wilderness Foundation’s Green Leaf status for minimising its environmental impact.

Sibuya Game Reserve

The lodges at this reserve are run on green principles and use solar power for lighting and gas for heating. The footprints of the timber and canvas structures are minimal and the siting on the riverbank in cool forest glades provides natural air conditioning. Local people have been trained to take on new roles in the hospitality sector, improving their earning ability. The Sibuya reserve provides support to the Thokomala Foster Home.

Lalibela Game Reserve

The Lalibela reserve employs about 68 people and is known for giving newly qualified youngsters the chance to gain experience in the game lodge industry.