The Sabi Sand Wildtuin is neighbour to over 12 rural villages with an average population of 41 000 people living adjacent to the reserve. These communities are well supported by the Sabi Sand through the Sabi Sand Pfunanani Trust and the various NGOs within its boundaries. The Sabi Sand Pfunanani Trust (SSPT) is the Sabi Sand Wildtuin’s official community upliftment entity.
Bushbuckridge and surrounding communities have been identified as one of the most impoverished areas in South Africa. In this area, wildlife represents one of the few opportunities for local communities to escape poverty and achieve upliftment. Partnering with neighbouring communities is essential to establishing a successful future for the Reserve’s wildlife and the local individuals surrounding it.
Visit the SSPT website to find out more on our projects and focus areas.
Isaac, our Community Liaison Manager is the face of Sabi Sand in terms of community engagement and interactions. He spends his time with local communities bringing community and conservation together to ensure social change and upliftment.
The Sabi Sand Community-based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) project, involved all of the Reserve’s neighbouring communities.
Socially, the CBNRM created a platform for job opportunities focused on conservation outputs, building local environmental skills, promoting interaction between the reserve and its neighbours, increasing productivity of neighbouring land, as well as enabling conservation-based economic opportunities.
Ecologically, the CBNRM activities were directed at restoring damaged ecosystems, preventing further damage, and preparing landscapes for possible value-added conservation activities, such as Wildlife Tourism and Community Conservancies.
Beginning in May 2017, in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), the first phase was completed in May 2018. During this period 283 local job opportunities were created and +/- 10 500ha of invasive alien plants were treated and controlled.
Focus was placed on priority invasive alien plant species, such as Parthenium hysterophorus (Famine weed) and Lantana camara (Lantana). These species have an aggressive growth pattern and negative health implications for humans and animals.
Teams working within the SSW shared their experiences and stories back home, encouraging more people to apply for work within the Reserve.
The support of Sabi Sand lodges and properties throughout this year was tremendous. Without their continued support the CBNRM could not have been nearly as successful.
From June 2018, the internal ecological services will continue through another program to ensure that focus by the CBNRM remains in rehabilitating and supporting communal land.
The most recent statistics reported a total population, of approximately 41,000 residents in the Sabi Sand Neighbouring area (2016 data). 72% of this population are youths and face high levels of unemployment. Unemployment is one of South Africa’s most serious and pressing challenges, mainly with youths between the ages 18-35.
Officially launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa in March 2018, YES is a joint initiative of private sector and Government. It seeks to give one million youth, one million job opportunities to succeed over the next three years, while securing South Africa’s economic prosperity.
Collaborating with Investec, YES identified 109 local youths and placed them in various internship positions where they will be trained, mentored and further developed by the SSPT.
Internships will run for a period of 12 months, and we believe that this opportunity will improve their prospects of finding future employment. Internship categories are all wildlife and conservation based.
On the back of this project, the Sabi Sand Wildtuin looks to further the support of employing locally. Want to know more?
The Sabi Sand Environmental Monitors (EM) is activated through the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Environmental Infrastructure and Protection Programme and supports 46 local community members to take part in actively conserving our wildlife.
Both armed and unarmed monitors show a driving passion to protect and preserve their natural heritage.
The program commenced in February 2013. Selected individuals were identified and trained into their niche area. It could be protecting high risk species from poaching or embracing the reserves environmental monitoring plan and promoting environmental awareness in their local communities.
These programmes uncover incredible local talent. Our budding conservationists have not only done amazing work but have become an integral part of the day to day functioning of the reserve and have developed deep love and understanding for the animals and land they protect. The reserve appreciates the continuous support of Kruger 2 Canyon and the Department of Environmental Affairs in implementing this programme.
See their webpage Kruger2Canyons Biosphere.
Community support and interaction is an integral part of protecting wildlife. The Sabi Sand rhino ambassador programme was established to create champions for the environment in each community directly neighbouring the reserve.
The ambassadors are trained in community engagement, awareness and campaigning and become the eyes, ears and educators on the ground. These environmental advocates bring valuable ideas and passion to conservation issues. They also liaise with the reserve and the reserve’s security and protection forces in solving the rhino problem.
After months of planning and organising, the area’s first trail run ever was hosted in Huntington community on the 19th May 2018. The SSPT partnered with More Community Trust to support this initiative and help raise funds for Jabez Pre-school in Justicia B community.
145 participants braved the cold and wet weather, and truly went the extra mile.
Congratulations to the winners of the different categories:
1st place men’s race: Doylance Vusi Mbungela
1st place women’s race: Colleen Durr
1st place men’s race: Sabbath Bendane
1st place women’s race: Thelma Mtsako Nyathi
Thank you to all those involved who supported, donated and participated. Keen to join? Next year’s race is 18 May 2019, contact us to book your spot.