With the reserve having a number of neighbouring communities on our southern boundaries, it is time to show a deep investment into support and giving not only an economic benefit by providing access to jobs, access to internships, but also providing community-based natural resource management programmes within these areas. Land integrity and value should not stop at the end of the fence, it should be a continued vision and action.
The clear and meaningful shift of the conservation landscape from an inward-looking body of stakeholders, concerned only with matters of their own conservation and environmental issues; to an outward-looking body that embraces and engages with the communities of people in which it exists. This process is playing out with greater momentum and it will act to improve the livelihood of the communities of people in wilderness areas as well as the sustainability of the habitats and wildlife within the reserve clusters.
The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve with its various lodges are indicative of the attraction force of the region for tourism and its role as a major driver of socio-economic development both regionally and nationally.
Our own reserve, including all of the commercial lodges, had a direct economic impact of around R 325 million, with direct spend on salaries and wages of at least R 70 million. This means that the TPNR contributes roughly 5.5% to 6% of the total Greater Kruger economy, largely as a result of the private commercial lodges within the reserve.
The State and Private Reserves that form the Greater Kruger have been actively encouraging engagement with local businesses, and a drive to incorporate more of the micro-enterprises of the local rural communities into the supply chain of the formal tourism businesses in the Greater Kruger.
It is clear that the true solution to the sustainability of the reserves rests on our ability to grow the wealth of the people with whom we share our landscape, and this process is already well underway.
The Timbavati Foundation, which acts as the community engagement entity for the reserve, has four main pillars on which their focus is retained, namely Conservation & environmental awareness, Education, Social care and Healthcare. The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve has taken upon itself to uphold two additional core focus areas, namely local enterprise development and youth development.
The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, through their Foundation, seeks to unlock potential within our local communities. Although they lack financial resources, these communities have abundant natural and human capital. Working through the wildlife economy (tourism or conservation-related industries), the Timbavati Foundation encourages partnerships between local communities and conservation efforts which assist communities to develop innovative livelihood strategies.
The TPNR’s Head of Ranger Services, Mr. Anton Mzimba, had noticed a shift in values as youth have become increasingly disconnected from conservation. If they don’t see value in national parks and protected areas, wildlife areas will become more valuable as farmland or housing developments.
But there is still hope. It’s in our job to inspire the Next Generation of Rangers.
The Future Rangers Program, initiated by the Global Conservation Corps (GCC) and in partnership with the Timbavati Foundation, was started to ensure that the next generation of conservationists are passionate, dedicated and motivated to conserve wildlife, while having the opportunity to apply their knowledge in exchange for a viable career in conservation.
The Future Rangers program engages with youth from early foundation age of 5, aiming to build their appreciation of nature from a core level. The most passionate & inspired learners are rewarded with game drives, trips to conservation areas and leadership courses. Once graduated from high school, the outstanding students are granted scholarships to higher education institutions, with eventual work placement in the conservation sector through our partners.
This programme is supported by world class infrastructure such as the Timbavati Environmental School and the Graeme Naylor Nature History Museum, learners are given an unparallel experience, but that is not where it stops, being exposed to the wonders and beauty of the TPNR is what inspires and cultivates these young hearts and minds to reconnect with nature once more. On an annual basis, +/-40,000 students visit the Graeme Naylor museum as part of ongoing educational programme which are sourced from 64 local Schools within the Bushbuckridge area.
See the Graeme Naylor Museum page to read more or book your visit!