Situated in South Africa’s Garden Route, Gondwana Game Reserve is more than just host to a beautiful 5-star lodge. Set over 11,000 hectares, the property also takes great pride in placing focus on nature conservation. The reserve is home to the non-profit organisation, The Gondwana Conservation Foundation (GCF), upholding four fundamental pillars: The Protection of Endangered Wildlife, The Protection of Endangered Vegetation, Community Upliftment and Environmental Education.
These important conversations become part of the safari experience at Gondwana and are spread through visitors’ powerful word of mouth.
Protection of Endangered Wildlife:
The GCF places focus on the relocation and long term sustainability of the endangered rhino species, cheetah, bontebok and Cape mountain zebra. Through the provision of habitat and prey species, precise and consistent monitoring of the animals, extensive research and implementation and training of anti-poaching units, the foundation seeks to cover all angles of protecting these precious creatures. Their flagship project, Rainbow Rhino Project, is specifically aimed at combating rhino poaching on the reserve through skills and technology development.
The project has a 10 year plan of introducing 165 individual rhino into reserves across Africa and 108 trained anti-poaching soldiers. Through the use of a state of the art anti-poaching training facility and utilising various technologies to enhance anti-poaching methods, the project ensures that rhino calves will be born into a safe environment. Within this period it is estimated that over 550 rhino will be protected through the foundation’s trained soldiers.
Protection of Endangered Vegetation:
Gondwana Game Reserve is also home to one of the most critically endangered vegetation types on earth, fynbos. Forming part of The Cape Floristic Kingdom, fynbos is endemic to the Southern Cape of South Africa. The GCF works towards the rehabilitation and promotion of biodiversity of the fynbos ecosystem. Achieved through specialised teams executing erosion control, removing alien vegetation, ensuring sustainable fire management and promoting water conservation within wetland systems, the programme is actively preserving one of the most unique environments in the world. Currently the foundation is involved in one of the largest privately driven land rehabilitation programs within the Southern Cape. There are over 60 local individuals that have been employed within the program with the majority of the contracts estimated to extend over a six year period.
The GCF achieves multiple objectives that simultaneously target environmental awareness, a contribution towards conservation and the creation of employment for nearby communities with high unemployment rates. The key focus of these community initiatives are local school empowerment programmes and overall community development. Conservation training in indigenous tree nurseries, wattle eradication, bee pollination and establishment of community gardens, offer locals the opportunity to improve their own lifestyle while earning a sustainable living.
The GCF’s environmental education initiative, Conservation Kids, is predominantly aimed towards children from underprivileged backgrounds who reside in close proximity to conservation areas. This is facilitated through day trips with local schools as well as overnight youth eco-camps. The goal is to foster awareness of wildlife and the environment, develop passionate young individuals and encourage youth to pursue a career in conservation. Educating children about ecology and invasive species, heritage and social responsibility, sustainability and endangered wildlife provides young individuals the tools to protect South African wildlife for future generations.