Connecting with Communities

Connecting with Communities

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.

Project Highlights:

Sabi Sand Community-based Natural Resource Management Programme

CBNRM Sabi Sand Community-based Natural Resource Management Programme Sabi Sand Wildtuin

The Sabi Sand Community-based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) project, involved all of the Reserve’s neighboring 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 neighbors, increasing the productivity of neighboring 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.

In 2019, a new three-year cycle of the CBNRM project kicked off. The first project cycle delivered extensive environmental and social benefits to the area. In its first year, the project created 278 jobs, 17,440 hectares were cleared or invasive alien plant species and 2 522 meters cubed of eroded areas were rehabilitated. We are excited to continue this high impact programme in partnership with the Department of Environmental Affairs. The project focuses on achieving significant environmental restoration by bringing employment and training to the less privileged households.

Teams from within the SSW have been activated and deployed in the selected surrounding communities to reduce the spread of famine weed and reduce the risk to the people in and around the Reserve. Treatments will continue through the wet months of the year to reduce its spread.

Want to help? Kindly send an email requesting our Sabi Sand Wildtuin A3 Parthenium (Famine Weed) Poster to help us spot this weed within the reserve & surrounds. Sightings can be sent to Iain on or +2778 804 0347.

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.

Youth Employment Service (YES)

YES (Youth Employment Service) is a presidential initiative and one of the first social compacts where government, businesses, and communities have come together to address youth unemployment in the country. The Sabi Sand Wildtuin, in partnership with Investec, gave 138 YES interns the opportunity to receive training and gain 12-months of work experience.

Of the intern opportunities made available, 65 interns invested in their future by applying and being appointed to the SSW conservation team. These 65 interns have fulfilled different roles, making up to 5 ecological service teams, 2 malaria and fence spraying teams, 2 firefighting teams, 3 chainsaw, and brush cutter operations, and 5 environmental apprentices.

The first group of 20 interns finished their internship at the end of March 2019. Some of the individuals have already secured opportunities at the end of their internship and the SSPT is assisting remaining individuals with formal updated CVs, reference letters, and connecting them with possible opportunities. Of the 138 interns recruited throughout the year, 10 have already been absorbed into permanent SSW positions.

Want to know more?

Visit the official YES website by clicking here.

Environmental Infrastructure and Protection Programme

The Environmental Monitor (EM) programme was initiated in 2013 by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) to aid in combatting the high rate of unemployment adjacent to conservation areas, as well as increasing threats of illegal wildlife trade.

The Sabi Sand Wildtuin has, since the commencement of the programme, taken up a total of 62 environmental monitors, both within the wildlife security and biodiversity monitoring areas. Their work, dedication and passion for conserving the Reserve have, not only been a significant impact to the Reserve itself, but also to the upliftment of the participants’ families.

The programme has had a significant impact on the livelihoods of the participants as well as their knowledge and understanding of Protected Areas. No longer is the fence a sign of exclusion, it is now a sign of wildlife protection for all generations, both in and outside of the Reserve boundaries. The environmental monitor model aims to maintain natural ecosystem integrity through increased capacity and well-being of local communities.

“Partnering to achieve a sustainable future for all life in the K2C biosphere” – K2C mission statement

See their webpage Kruger2Canyons Biosphere.

Rabies Inoculation Project

Long-term rabies monitoring and vaccination campaigns, facilitated by our State Veterinarian Department, continues to run within multiple communities surrounding the SSW. The campaigns were exclusively set out to vaccinate domestic dogs against rabies but, due to the recent outbreak of canine distemper, which has sadly targeted some wildlife populations in neighboring Reserves, the SSW has taken a stand in the fight against these two extreme diseases.

The SSW Nature Conservation Trust recently donated 3,500 vaccinations which protect the domestic dogs against a wide range of diseases. Alongside this, a rigorous educational and hands-on programme will roll and be implemented with both the State Veterinarian Department and SSW personnel to ensure larger areas are covered within our neighbouring communities, allowing for all the vaccinations to be used, as well as ensuring the awareness of the disease by local communities is engaged.

Hard-hitting statistics show that, prior to campaigns being implemented, rabies positive dogs euthanized within the Reserve accounted for 56% of all dogs. This has subsequently, over the past few years, revered its result by enthusiastically reflecting a drastically reduced percentage of rabid dogs entering the Reserve – down to 24%. Prior to 2017, SSW was averaging 17 dog incursions per year, which has now been halved to an average of only 8 dogs per year. With great efforts all around, 2019 holds a special space for this movement.

The Extra Mile – First Ever Huntington Community Trail Run

The Extra Mile Connecting with Communities Sabi Sand Wildtuin SSW

The Extra Mile which is sponsored by Investec Rhino Lifeline is Sabi Sand Wildtuin’s first trail run, with a fundraising dinner, organized by More Community Trust in partnership with the Sabi Sand Pfunanani Trust and Endangered Wildlife Trust.

This annual event raises funds for communities surrounding the Sabi Sand Protected Area – with communities that are one of the poorest in South Africa – to further their development and make a real difference in the lives of the residents.

The run is open to everyone – families, friends, workmates, and community members who join the professionals on either the 10km or 21km trail through the scenic Sabi Sand Protected Area.

To find out more about this initiative, click here.