Sabi Sand Nature Conservation Trust

The Sabi Sand Nature Conservation Trust adopts a holistic approach to conservation that encompasses the land as well as all the living things on it.

In every area of our operations – and those of the luxury lodges within the Sabi Sand Nature Reserve – we look to minimise our environmental footprint whilst still contributing to the green economy. This includes advising on the adoption of relevant technology to reduce carbon footprints by lessening the dependence on fossil fuels.

We use key projects to raise awareness of broader themes, and align ourselves with regional, national and global conservation initiatives.

Some of our key programmes include:

River Health Monitoring

River Health Monitoring research within the Sabi Sand Nature Reserve was initiated in July 2019 and takes place twice a year. These bi-annual health assessments are important for generating and disseminating information that management decisions can be based on.

The Sand River has never previously been monitored in its entirety across the Reserve and the data which is being collected will allow management to examine trends in the river system on an ongoing basis. River health is monitored using a system called the South African Scoring System (SASS 5). This is a rapid, qualitative, multi-habitat method that examines the presence and abundance of freshwater macroinvertebrates and is an effective method of determining short term and seasonal long-term changes to river systems.

Sand River – Save the Sand Programme

We recognise that the Sand River is a shared resource for communities upstream of the

Nature Reserve. As these communities largely depend on agriculture, they tend to have significant water requirements. We’re working with stakeholders to find solutions that reduce pollution from fertiliser and pesticide run-off, erosion, and inequal extraction of water so that the Sand River can continue to be a healthy lifeline for all.

Southern Ground Hornbill Monitoring and Support Programme

The Southern Ground Hornbill is one of South Africa’s most iconic and culturally significant birds – but also one of the most threatened. Habitat loss (including the reduced availability of nesting trees) is having a devastating impact on this long-lived but slow breeding species. In collaboration with the Mabula Ground Hornbill project, we have been collecting and analysing sightings and group size data, as well as following nesting behaviour and breeding success within the Sabi Sand Nature Reserve for the last 8 years. The data that has been collected has allowed the identification of clear territorial areas.

In 2017, we became an active participant in the nest harvesting procedure whereby second chicks (which typically don’t survive in Nature) are removed from nests and taken to the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project Site. The birds are then reared to juvenile age and placed within their ‘bush school’ (which helps the birds acquire the skills they need to survive the critical first five years of life) before a planned final release. These juvenile Ground Hornbills are then introduced into the greater population to help secure a future for this very special and threatened species.

Aerial Census

Each year, we conduct an aerial survey of the entire Sabi Sand Reserve to determine numbers of large mammals. This is done by flying helicopter transects at a constant speed and height. Data from these surveys is used to make informed decisions on effective wildlife management.

Veld Condition Assessments

Veld condition assessments are done annually during the growth season across 38 sites chosen to represent all the main vegetation types in the Reserve. At each site, grass and woody species composition, grass phytomass and woody species height composition is measured and then used to monitor veld condition.

Invasive Alien Species Clearing

In accordance with the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act, 2004, Sabi Sand Nature Reserve has been clearing alien invasive plants listed as category 1 invaders through employing an alien invasive clearing team from local communities.

These are just some of our headline initiatives – to find out more about the work of the Sabi Sand Nature Conservation Trust, to donate or to get involved, please contact

Veterinary interventions

Veterinary interventions play an integral part of wildlife management. SSW has adopted a policy of “letting nature takes its course”, however we intervene for any wildlife injury with an anthropogenic cause as well as all natural and anthropogenic rhino injuries. Early detection and monitoring of an injury is essential for an animal’s recovery. Examples of interventions undertaken on the reserve are snare removals from a variety of species, pipe removals from antelope hooves, the relocation of rhino calves to orphanages and the treating of fighting injuries on rhino.

Wanting to support or get involved?

These are just some of our headline initiatives – to find out more about the work of the Sabi Sand Nature Conservation Trust, to donate or to get involved, please contact

Species lists (PDF)



With 12 rural surrounding villages, the Sabi Sand Nature Reserve actively supports these communities through the Sabi Sand Pfunanani Trust & various NPOs affiliated with the reserve.


A key focus in the Sabi Sand Nature Reserve’s history has been passionately preserving its natural biodiversity. Multiple conservation efforts in place makes this goal a reality.

Saving Rhino

Sabi Sand stands out as a leading landmark for conservation in Africa. We have created a protected sanctuary for species that are at risk. Over the last six years we have implemented an intensive wildlife protection programme and continually build on this work to defend our precious species.