Aquila aims to affect change

Posted by Janine Avery on 3 October 2012

Recently I was lucky enough to visit Aquila Private Game Reserve near Touws River in the Western Cape. I went in to the trip expecting to walk away with memories of close animal encounters, a magnificent horse ride safari, mountains of delicious food and sunset champagne cocktails. Although I experienced all of this and the memories are wonderful what affected me most was the environmental difference this one lodge is making in our country.

Aquila strives to restore African pride in the people that live here and does so through animal conservation efforts, social uplifment programmes,  job creation and renewable energy projects.

The most obvious of these efforts is the Animal Rescue and Conservation Centre located across the road from the lodge. If you stay at the hotel you have free access to the Centre which houses leopard, lions, cheetah and crocodiles. The animals here have been saved, mostly from canned hunting projects, and are well looked after although there doesn’t seem to be a plan to release them back into the wild.

Sadly, roughly a year ago, Aquila was hit hard by a rhino poaching incident. (Read bout the Aquila rhino massacre). This incident claimed two of their rhino’s lives and injured their pregnant female. This led to the launch of the “Saving Private Rhino” initiative. Two cabins can be seen on the reserve to cater towards this programme. Here game rangers from other lodges across the country can be trained in how to protect their Rhinos.

Aquila also proudly boasts the fact that they are the largest job creator in the area, although sadly many of the staff working here are the only person in their family with a job. Touws River was once an old-railway stop and nothing much happens there now, meaning this impoverished town has a 97% unemployment rate. Aquila is also responsible for sponsoring a local cricket team and a full time teacher in the area.

Then, perhaps the most unexpected, but not at all least inspiring is Aquila’s attention to the environment. Next to the Conservation Centre a sprawling metropolis of solar panels can be seen. These solar panels provide enough power to serve all of Aquila’s energy needs (although I am not going to lie – the lighting is very dim in the rooms). The rooms also feature complimentary shampoo, conditioner and shower gel – like most hotels. However, unlike most hotels, Aquila actually encourages guests to use these products over their own due to the fact that they are environmentally friendly.

In this day and age it is exciting for a luxury hotel, such as Aquila, to be so focused on giving back. Although accommodation here is relatively expensive, I am happy to pay it, knowing that a part of my money is going to these worthy causes.

 

Aquila Private Game Reserve

Tel  021-430-7260
Email: [email protected]
www.aquilasafari.com 

Day trip safaris start from R1300 a person, and accommodation from R1670 a person (includes meals and two game drives).






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