Timbavati shows deep investment in the communities on its southern boundary. The reserve creates economic benefit by creating jobs and internships for trainees, and in addition provides community-based natural resource management programmes in the areas. Land integrity and value should not stop at the fence; it should be a continuous vision and action.
There is a 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 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 shows that the region is attractive for tourism and demonstrates the role of tourism as a major driver of socio-economic development both regionally and nationally.
Our own reserve, including all the commercial lodges, had a direct economic impact of around R325 million, in the 2018-2019 financial year, with direct spend on salaries and wages of at least R70 million. This means that the TPNR contributes roughly 5.5% to 6% of the total economy of Greater Kruger, 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 supporting their focus, namely Conservation & environmental awareness, Education, Social care and Healthcare. The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve has taken on 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, 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.
Connecting with our surrounding communities and instilling a conservation passion from an early age, will assist in recruiting the youth in wanting to contribute and make a career in conservation. The Timbavati Foundation through its Environmental School aims to promote and encourage just that.
The school is supported by having resources such as the world class Graeme Naylor Museum which gives learners an unparalleled experience, but that is not where it stops; exposure through game drives on the TPNR, brings the wonder and learning to life which inspires these young hearts and minds to reconnect with nature once more. About 40 000 learners visit the Graeme Naylor museum annually, as part of the ongoing educational programme which reaches out to 64 local Schools within the Bushbuckridge area.
See the Graeme Naylor Museum page to read more or book your visit!
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