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Maintenance Manager position available at Private Game Reserve / Resort in Sterkrivier, Limpopo.

Position Overview

Manage all repairs, maintenance and gardens of the Lodges and Resort.
Manage the maintenance team and ensure quality work of staff in the different subdepartments.

Ensure daily & general duties are carried out diligently, efficiently and in a timely manner.

Form part of the General Manager’s Team.


Package & Remuneration

Salary to be discussed during interview.
Position is Livein (Unfurnished house, free water& electricity).


Desired Experience & Qualification

35 years’ experience in maintenance managerial position within a lodge / resort environment
Working knowledge of plumbing & electrical, a qualification will be an advantage

Building, sewerage, and water supply system experience are desired

Mechanical skills

Must have excellent problemsolving skills

Must be able to work with a team and as an individual

Must be able to work under pressure

Must be trustworthy and reliable

Excellent organizational skills

Sober habits due to standby duties & responsibilities


Duties & Responsibilities.

Ensure the general maintenance and upkeep of the Lodges, Resort, staff accommodation, electrical and
water supply & sewage systems.

Perform daily tasks & responsibilities as per the job description and schedules provided.

Ensure that work is performed to a high standard.

Assist the staff with daily duties & responsibilities.

Reports to the General Manager.

Ensure all necessary administrative duties, including but not limited to team timesheets, ordering of stock
items, log faults, stock takes, reports, record keeping, Management reports etc.

Ensure equipment is clean, in good working condition and stored in the correct areas.

Training of employees as required.



Please send your full CV, head & shoulders photo, and references to

Closing Date: 20 May 2022

Limpopo Nature & Game Reserves

The South African province of Limpopo is as diverse in its wildlife as it is in its unique archaeological and natural attractions. Its vast expanses of bushveld wilderness are the natural habitat of scores of species that include mammals, reptiles, insects, birds and plants. This makes Limpopo the perfect destination for nature-lovers and wildlife enthusiasts that want to experience the wilder side of South Africa.

Because Limpopo remains predominantly rural, there are vast expanses that are still untouched by human development. They are aesthetically breath-taking and are generous in their abundance of fauna and flora. This means that there is even more space available for spectacular nature reserves, game reserves, and national parks.

The Mapungubwe National Park is famous for its sandstone formations, mopane trees, and incredible wildlife (including elephants and rhinos). The Kruger National Park is a world-renowned safari hotspot and is home to the Big Five. With an area of just less than 20 000 square kilometres, it is one of the largest reserves on the African continent, and is its oldest. It has over 2 000 plant species and 500 bird species within its borders. This means that it is a very special oasis of all things wild and wonderful. In addition to lion, elephant, leopard, rhino and buffalo; Kruger is home to the side-striped jackal, hippo, honey badger, African wild cat, sable, and many more exciting species. At the Marakele National Park, visitors can look forward to seeing elephant, rhino, big cats, and more than 800 breeding pairs of the elegant Cape vulture. The Entabeni Game Reserve offers a natural beauty of a different kind. It is part of the Waterberg biosphere (which enjoys a world heritage status) and boasts a mosaic of sandy wetlands, picturesque streams, and imposing mountain ranges; in addition to impressive plants and animals.

Guided game drives through the parks and reserves are rewarding, as the experienced rangers know this land and its rhythms. Many of the parks are also accessible to visitors driving their own vehicles. Stop at the various lookout points, photograph the animals at the watering holes, or watch in silent awe as a predator stalks its prey. Game drives in the early morning or evening reveal an entirely different variety of animals to those at night, when nocturnal species emerge to find food and water. Some of the reserves also offer walking safaris so that visitors can be part of the raw bushveld in a very personal way. Feel the crunch of the grasses underfoot, smell the heat of the earth as it rises, and hear the calls of the birds soaring overhead.

The game and nature reserves in Limpopo are only about four hours’ drive from Johannesburg and its international airport, making them particularly accessible. There is a huge array of accommodation options in the area; ranging from very affordable spots for the family to more luxurious game lodges.

10 endangered animals in South Africa and how you can help

When talking about endangered animals, those that often get media attention like rhinos and pangolin spring to mind but there are several others in South Africa.

The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) has created a Red List on which they publish endangered animals from around the world that face human-induced threats to their survival daily.

READ: Women rangers are protecting wildlife in Africa’s poaching hotspots

Here are 10 endangered animals in South Africa, and ways you can contribute to their conservation.

1. Pickergill’s Reedfrog

UCN Red List status: Critically endangered

It’s easy to overlook an animal that is only 3cm long, but once you know of its existence, it’s hard not to care about its future. The Pickersgill’s reed frog is one of the most endangered amphibians in South Africa. It’s endemic to the coastline of KwaZulu-Natal where their numbers are shockingly low and vastly spread out along the coast.

Major threats?
Coastal development, habitat fragmentation, and draining of water used for agricultural and urban development.

Current conservation efforts?
Two of the wetland areas where they live are currently protected. South Africa’s very first captive breeding project for the conservation of a threatened amphibian species has included the Pickersgill’s reed frog. The project is run by the African Association of Zoos and Aquaria. The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) has named the Pickersgill’s reed frog its flagship species for its amphibian conservation programme.

How you can help

2. Cape vulture

IUCN Red List status: Endangered
We easily underestimate the importance of vultures, perhaps because the term in itself has quite a negative connotation. But the essence of being a vulture is to clean up, and therefore, do good. By eating off carcasses they prevent diseases from spreading amongst the animal kingdom. Cape Vultures are only found in Southern Africa, limiting the already decreasing population.

Major threats
Loss of habitat, electrocution on pylons or collision with cables and unintentional poisoning.

Current conservation efforts
VulPro is one of the leading Cape Vulture conservation organisations in the country. They aim not only to conserve and protect Cape Vultures but also to raise awareness around them. They launched a breeding and rehabilitation project fairly recently and the first captive-bred vulture chick hatched on 1 September last year at the Johannesburg Zoo.

How you can help

3. Cheetah

IUCN Red List status: Vulnerable

No one can deny the grace and beauty of the fastest land animal on earth. These beauties have been the subject of countless incredible wildlife images, with their dark tear stains and perfectly spotted agile bodies. Unfortunately, many farmers don’t feel the same because cheetahs are smart enough to know that a sheep is a much easier catch than an antelope on the run. Many farmers end up poisoning, shooting or trapping the cheetah culprits.

Major threats Farmer-predator conflict, loss of habitat.

Current conservation efforts
Cheetah Outreach in Somerset West and the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia are but two organisations that are dedicated to conserving cheetahs in their natural habitat. Both have active guard dog programmes that place Anatolian shepherd dogs on farms to chase away predators. As cheetahs aren’t aggressive animals, they’ll rather find dinner somewhere else than face a physical confrontation. These programmes have proven to be very successful.

How you can help

4. African wild dog

IUCN Red List status: Endangered

There has long existed a very negative misconception around the African wild dog or painted dog. Violent snaring of wild dogs is one of the most brutal ways of killing, and unfortunately, this happens much too often in our wildernesses.

Major threats Human persecution

Current conservation efforts
There are many conservation organisations spread out around Africa that are working hard to protect the African wild dog in its natural habitat. In South Africa, the only viable population exists in the Kruger National Park and the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve. The Endangered Wildlife Trust has sponsored a major monitoring and reintroduction programme here. They have already successfully reintroduced wild dogs into the park and hope to continue doing this great work.

How you can help

5. Blue crane

IUCN Red List status: Vulnerable
The blue crane is South Africa’s national bird, and although there are small pockets and occasional breeding pairs found in neighbouring countries, they are mostly found in the Western Cape. Because they have a blind spot in the vision, they tend to collide with power lines and since they have very long, dangly legs, they get entangled in the wires.

Major threats
Habitat loss, collision with electric wires, poisoning.

Current conservation efforts
The Endangered Wildlife Trust has an active African crane conservation programme that aims to lessen the threats that face blue cranes, as well as wattled cranes, grey crowned cranes and black-crowned cranes. They’re working hard to implement ways of making power lines more visible to blue cranes. There’s more about blue crane conservation here.

How you can help

6. Riverine rabbit

IUCN Red List status: Critically endangered

This little nocturnal rabbit can only be found in the Karoo regions and is currently the most endangered mammal in South Africa. It only lives in the deep silt flood plains of seasonal Karoo rivers and can’t be found anywhere else in the world, making it incredibly vulnerable to habitat loss.

Major threats
Loss of habitat due to cultivation and livestock farming

Current conservation efforts
The Endangered Wildlife Trust runs a very active riverine rabbit conservation programme that aims to conserve the biodiversity of the Karoo region. They also encourage private landowners to participate in conservation stewardship.

How you can help

7. Knysna seahorse

IUCN Red List status: Endangered

This delicate little creature, with a head like a horse and a tail with a perfect curl, occurs naturally in three estuaries around the country, namely Knysna, Swartvlei, and Keurbooms. Unfortunately, the Knysna estuary is also very important to South Africa’s fishing industry and the major industrial developments are proving challenging for the seahorse’s survival. The continuous urban expansion is not helping either.

Major threats?
Habitat loss

Current conservation efforts?
SANParks are doing their bit to restrict further urban development around the Knysna estuary. The Knysna Basin Project has been researching a small field station since the early ’90s and their reports also contribute to a better-protected lagoon and estuary.

How you can help

8. Golden mole

IUCN Red List status:
Endangered – Critically endangered

Golden Moles rank surprisingly high on the list of most endangered animals in South Africa; with five different species reaching the top ten most endangered mammals in the country. You may not see them often, but these tiny diggers are on their way to extinction.

Major threats?
The development (mining and agriculture) of South Africa’s grasslands.

Current conservation efforts?

Juliana’s golden moles are currently protected in the southwestern area of the Kruger National Park (Mpumalanga), and the Nylsvley Nature Reserve in the Northern Province. The University of Pretoria and Cape Town have both done extensive research on the habitat and survival of the golden moles.

How you can help

9. Yellow-breasted pipit

IUCN Red List status: Vulnerable

These cheerful-looking birds occur mostly in the highland grasslands of the Drakensberg, a beautiful region, but also South Africa’s most threatened grassland biome. They are endemic to South Africa, in the area near Dullstroom in Mpumalanga to the northern section of the Eastern Cape and also a small section of Lesotho.

Major threats?
Habitat loss due to commercial livestock farming in the areas where they stay

Current conservation efforts?

The Natal Drakensberg Park and other nature reserves give the yellow-breasted pipit a safe haven. The proposed Grassland Biosphere Reserve, centred around Volksrust and Wakkerstroom, is also estimated to hold a significant proportion of the global population.

How you can help
Join the EWT and donate or choose them as your beneficiary when you get a MyPlanet card, free of charge.

10. Oribi

IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern, but decreasing

On an international scale, the oribi may not be very endangered, but it’s actually one of the most endangered antelope that roam the South African plains. It’s called a specialist grazer because it doesn’t eat just any type of grass and therefore it’s incredibly vulnerable to habitat loss.

Major threats?
Habitat loss and illegal hunting (poaching)

Current conservation efforts?
There exists an illegal hunting forum to assist with illegal hunting and poaching issues. An Oribi Working Group has been established within the Endangered Wildlife Trust to focus on their specific habitats and on conserving them.

How you can help
Join the EWT or choose them as your beneficiary when you get a MyPlanet card, free of charge.

Interesting Safari Trivia Facts

If you’re heading out on safari, it’s a great idea to do a little research on some of the animals you’ll encounter while you’re in the bush. We’ve rounded up15 interesting safari trivia facts that you can wow your fellow safari-goers with!

Fact 1 “The Helmeted Guineafowl”

Helmeted guineafowls spend their days feeding on the ground but roost in trees at night to avoid predators. Some Luangwa leopards, however, have become adept at hunting them in the treetops!

Fact 2 “Crocodile Eyelids”

Did you know that a crocodile has three eyelids? As well as the top and bottom, there is a clear eyelid that protects the eye underwater.

Fact 3 “Elephant Trunks”

An elephant’s trunk is probably the most versatile and useful appendage on the planet. It is a nose, an arm, a hand, a voice, a drinking straw, a hose and much more, but youngsters may take years to truly master its usage.

Fact 4 “Giraffe Horns”

A giraffe is one of the few animals born with horns. A baby giraffe’s horns lie flat against the skull when it is born and pop upright during the first week of life. The ‘horns’ are formed from ossified cartilage and are called ossicones.

Fact 5 “The Nile Crocodile”

The Nile Crocodile has between 64 and 68 cone-shaped teeth, which are constantly being replaced as they get lost or damaged. An individual tooth lasts for about 2 years and a single crocodile might go through over 2000 teeth in its lifetime.

Fact 6 “Lion Cubs”

Play, both with adults and littermates, helps young lions to develop such skills as stalking and pouncing.

Fact 7 “The Pied Kingfisher”

The pied kingfisher is believed to be the world’s longest bird (measured bill to tail) that can sustain hovering flight in the air. This hovering ability allows it to hunt over shallow water without a perch.

Fact 8 “Male Buffalo”

The horns of a male buffalo differ from those of a female by broadening into a heavy shield, known as a boss, across the forehead. Horn length may be as long as 160 cm along the outer curve in large males, with a horizontal spread greater than 90 cm.

Fact 9 “Baby Hippos”

Did you know that baby hippos are usually born on land or in shallow water, but suckle underwater? They remain with their mothers for up to eight years.

Fact 10 “Leopards”

Leopards tails are so long so they can act as counterbalances when running, jumping or climbing trees.

Fact 11 “Twitcher Trivia”

Did you know that the collective noun for a group of oxpeckers is a “fling”?

Fact 12 “Leopard Lunch”

Leopards have been recorded feeding on over 90 different prey species. Their diet includes insects, rodents, birds, reptiles and carrion, but medium-sized antelopes are a favourite target.

Fact 13 “Elephant Diet”

Recent research shows that a clear record of an elephant’s diet can be obtained by analyzing the proteins that make up their tail hairs.

Fact 14 “Laughing Hyenas”

Spotted hyenas make up to ten different types of vocalization. Recent studies have shown that the pitch of the hyena’s “laugh” reveals its age. “whoops”, with long inter-whoop intervals, are primarily used to signal that two individuals have become separated while “grunts” or “soft growls” are emitted when hyenas of the same clan come into close contact.

Fact 15 “Wallowing Warthogs”

Thanks to their habit of wallowing, warthogs often develop a mud ball on the end of their tails? When it gets too heavy it pulls out the tail hairs and falls off… leaving a rather unusual item for the safari guide to identify!

We Are Hiring!

Maintenance Supervisor Vacancy.pdf

Maintenance Supervisor position available at Lodge / Resort in
Sterkrivier, Limpopo.

Position Overview

Supervise and assist the Maintenance Manager on the quality work of labourers and staff in the departments.
Ensure daily & general Maintenance, Gardens, Workshop and Golf course duties are carried out diligently,
efficiently and in a timely manner.

Package & Remuneration

Salary to be discussed in interview.
Position is Livein

Desired Experience & Qualification

At least 3 years’ experience in maintenance department in a lodge / resort environment at a Supervisory level.
Good general knowledge of plumbing & electrical, qualification will be an advantage.

Building experience is an advantage

Mechanical skills an advantage

Must have excellent problemsolving skills

Must be able to work with a team and as an individual

Must be able to work under pressure

Must be trustworthy and reliable

Excellent organizational skills

Sober habits due to standby duties & responsibilities

Duties & Responsibilities

Assist in the general maintenance and upkeep of the lodges, resort, guest rooms, staff accommodation, water
supply & sewage systems.

Perform daily tasks & responsibilities as per the job description and schedules provided.

See that work is performed to a high standard.

Assist the staff with daily duties & responsibilities.

Follow up on outstanding issues and report back.

Assist with all necessary administrative duties, including but not limited to team timesheets, ordering of stock items,
log faults, stock takes, reports, record keeping etc.

Ensuring equipment is clean, in good working conditions and stored in the correct areas.


Please send your full CV to:

General Safari Safety Tips

General Safety Tips

Tour operators make it their business to know the areas they travel in thus reducing risk to travellers. However, it is sensible to take normal precautions on your African safari, particularly when travelling through urban areas.

Travel Documents / Money

Always have a photocopy of your passport, and any visas. Also, have a list of traveller’s cheque numbers. These copies should be packed separately from the originals. It is never a good idea to carry large amounts of cash, and most urban centres (hotels, shops) do accept credit cards (Visa and Mastercard are most common), and traveller’s cheques.  You might need cash for purchases at the local markets – keep this in a travel wallet, or a zip pocket.


Never leave cameras and hand luggage unattended, whether in a vehicle, or even in a hotel foyer. Never pack valuables (this includes medication), in your check-in luggage.

Personal Safety

When travelling independently on your African safari, stay informed in terms of the local news. Ask at your hotel about any unsafe areas, and codes of dress and behaviour. Don’t openly carry valuables. If you must carry your passport and money, keep them in a buttoned-down pocket.

Game Viewing

Your guide will always do a safety talk with you, whether your game viewing is to be done from a vehicle, or on foot.  Wildlife is potentially dangerous, but as long as you adhere to what you guide tells you, there is very little to worry about. At viewpoints, hides and camps, wildlife is more familiar with people and less intimidated by your presence. Never tease or corner wild animals – this may cause an unpredictable response and a potentially dangerous reaction. Never feed any animals, as this can cause them to lose their fear of humans.

Creepy Crawlies

Although Africa is known to be home to a number of potentially dangerous species, especially snakes, scorpions, spiders, and insects, very few visitors are adversely affected. Snakes tend to be shy, and generally stay away from built-up areas. Lodges and camps generally have insect (especially mosquito) proofing in their rooms. If you go on a walk, it is always a good idea to comfortable, enclosed walking shoes, socks, and long trousers – just as a precaution.

Tourism in Limpopo


The Limpopo landscape is made up of dramatic contrasts characterised by hot savanna plains and mist-clad mountains, age-old indigenous forests and cycads alongside modern plantations, and ancient mountain fortresses and the luxury of contemporary infrastructure and modern-day facilities.

Key attractions

The Marakele National Park is home to some rare yellowwood and cedar trees and the world’s largest colony of Cape vultures. It is also a leader in the conservation of the black rhino outside of the Kruger National Park and the KwaZulu-Natal parks. Polokwane is considered the premier game-hunting destination in South Africa. The Mapungubwe Archaeological Site, 80 km west of Musina, lies within the boundaries of the Mapungubwe National Park. It is one of the richest of its kind in Africa and a world heritage site. Excavations in the 1930s uncovered a royal graveyard, which included a number of golden artefacts, including the famous gold foil rhinoceros. The Kruger National Park (northern section) is one of South Asfrica’s major tourist attractions. The park is home to a large number and wide variety of amphibians, reptiles and birds, as well as 147 mammal species, including the Big Five.

North West

North West has several cultural villages that entertain and attract visitors. A number of excellent game reserves have been established, including the Pilanesberg National Park.7

Key attractions

The historic route of Mahikeng includes an South African/Anglo-Boer War siege site, the Molema House where Sol Plaatje lived while writing his Mafikeng Diary, and the Mahikeng Museum.
The Groot Marico region is known as mampoer country and visitors can explore the Mampoer Route. The Kortkloof Cultural Village is dedicated to the Tswana people.
Ottosdal is the only place in South Africa where the unique “wonderstone” or pyrophyllite, is found and mined. San rock engravings, Stone Age implements and structures are found on farms such as Witpoort, Gestoptefontein, Driekuil and Korannafontein.

10 Reasons to visit Limpopo

Known for its huge rivers, splashing hippos and immersive culture, Limpopo is one of the most interesting, and abundant provinces in South Africa. Just a short distance from Jozi, the former Northern Province is one of wild bushveld, big five, and amazing experiences. Here are the top ten reasons why you just have to take a Sho’t Left and visit this beautiful region for yourself.

The Big 5

Limpopo is known for its incredible wildlife. Not just found in the Kruger Park, South Africa’s amazing animals are showcased in a number of smaller and sometimes private game parks dotted around the province. For some reason the wildlife seems bigger and more exciting in the place of strong, gushing waterfalls, enormous trees, open sky, and never-ending wilds.

African Gateway

As Limpopo is bordered on its various sides by Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique it is known as the Gateway to Africa. You can stay in the province, and be able to take day trips to the surrounding countries. This opens up your possible experiences tenfold.

Cultural Heritage

Places to see include The Mapungubwe Heritage Site and The Ribolla Cultural Route, which together combine both the old and the new. The Mapungubwe Heritage site dates back to the Iron Age, complete with San rock art. The Ribolla Cultural route, on the other hand, explores traditional young artists in their home villages. One can view their pieces as well as see how traditional Venda people live.


The Oppikoppi music festival is well known among South Africans who enjoy good quality music, a great time and lots to eat. World class acts brush shoulders with some lesser known ones, all set in the sleepy town of Northam. If you love camping and awesome people, this is the weekend getaway for you.

Magic and Mysticism

Limpopo has more than its fair share of legends and mysteries. If you like stories which give you goosebumps, be sure to visit Lake Fundudzi & Thathe Vondo Forest. Whispered stories of a great white crocodile, a giant python and a village of cursed people at the bottom of a lake can all be discovered with informative and interesting guided tours. Not to mention the Cave of Hearths, where rock art and a human mandible show testament to some of our earliest ancestors.

The flowers are incredible

The Magoebaskloof Spring festival is a riot of colours and a feast for the eyes. The centrepieces are the amazing number of orchids grown by the Magoebaskloof Hotel, but in spring many other plants put on a living painting as well. The hotel itself was built in the 1930s, but was almost completely destroyed by fire in 2004. Of the original building only the Post Box Pub, the Dickie Dagge conference room and one wing of rooms survived.

The mountains are ancient

The Waterberg is one of the oldest mountain ranges in the country, and was the first biosphere to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in South Africa. You can find everything from diverse bird species, to big game and even bigger trees in the Waterberg Biosphere. History abounds as well, with some of the sites dating back to primitive man. For those who like spelunking, there is no shortage of caves to explore, just make sure that you do it with a guide and not alone!

The water is warm

Bela Bela is close to Jozi and easily accessible via the N4. Formerly Warmbaths, the region is well known for its resorts full of natural hot springs. Relaxing in the steaming mineral water is not only good for the skin but the soul as well.

The trees are huge

Baobabs are possibly Africa’s biggest tree. It is said that the gods dropped the tree out of heaven and it landed on the earth upside down, which is why the branches look like a root network. In any case, Baobabs are awe-inspiring to behold with some being over 1000 years old and actually big enough to fit a very small pub into. Be in awe of the Marula tree, a majestic piece of nature that stands tall at approximately 15 metres. The tree is high in vitamin C and is also used in Amarula Cream liquor—a well-known South African liquor brand.

The people are royalty

The locals of Limpopo have a queen known as the Rain Queen, the hereditary queen of Balobedu. The position of the Rain Queen is matrilineal, meaning succession to the throne is bestowed onto the eldest daughter. Currently, there is no Rain Queen as the last queen passed away in 2015. The next in line to the throne is expected to be crowned when she turns 18.

Game drive etiquette: Rules you need to know before going to the Kruger

When doing a self-drive safari in the Kruger National Park, there’s nothing worse than being stuck behind cars insisting on stopping diagonally on the road to get their perfect picture, or waiting to get a glimpse of the sighting because others have been parked in the front-row seats for hours.

That’s why there are certain rules in the park and if everyone abides by them, game drives should be a terrific experience. Before you go, familiarise yourself with these to make sure you’re not one of the culprits.

Remember, everyone wants to see the amazing sightings and enjoy their drives, so heading out with a patient and accommodating mindset from the get-go will go a long way.

Take note of these general sighting rules:

– Always keep to the speed limit: 50 km/h on tarred roads and 40 km/h on gravel roads, but slower is better

– When you come across a sighting, slowly pull over on the side of the road closest to the animal, but keep a safe distance

– If there are animals in the road, immediately stop at least 20 m from them

– The lane furthest from the sighting should never be blocked, so that others can pass if they want to

– Don’t linger longer than a few minutes at a sighting, so that others can view it too

– Never go off the designated roads

– Never climb out of your vehicle during a drive, or hang out of your car windows or sunroof

– Don’t hoot or blare loud music

– Avoid driving into vegetation, as this could damage the environment or kill small animals

– During night drives, never shine a spotlight directly in animals’ eyes

– Never make noise to get animals to move, stand up or otherwise react for pictures

– Respect the rangers, and always comply with their requests or instructions

Private game reserves are vital in battle to conserve environmental heritage

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

The Covid-19 pandemic has devastated the global travel industry and although there now are signs of activity resuming in some markets, the sector is still a long way from recovery.

New research from ForwardKeys, the travel data provider, shows that international flights to European destinations have reached 39.9% of pre-pandemic levels.

While this is significantly better than 2020 when the comparative figure was 26.6%, the picture is very mixed, with some destinations doing much better than others. Worryingly though, the outlook is not good, with bookings slowing towards the end of the Northern Hemisphere summer.

Although the data only considered Europe, it revealed some trends that should concern us. Countries that fared worst were those reliant on long-haul tourism. These travellers typically stay longer and spend more, and have all but disappeared.

Onerous travel restrictions, such as those the UK imposed, also affected destinations popular with British holidaymakers, such as Portugal, which was reclassified from green to amber in June. At the time of writing, South Africa remains on the UK’s red list, inhibiting travel from one of our most important source markets.

A year ago, I was asked when we anticipate guest numbers at Shamwari, a private game reserve in the Eastern Cape, returning to pre-2019 levels. My gloomy projection was 2023. Now, that seems optimistic.

The consequences of a prolonged recovery are significant for the entire travel and hospitality industry. The obvious concern is the longer it takes, the more the sector contracts.

By the time the recovery comes, South Africa may no longer be able to reclaim its place in a competitive global market.

As someone who started their safari career in conservation rather than hospitality, I have another worry that’s perhaps less obvious but to my mind equally important. It’s our ability to conserve our natural heritage.

Conservation is an expensive business and private game reserves have no other source of revenue than what guests spend when they visit us. Tourism funds these projects. Every rand spent contributes to a business model that absorbs the cost of conserving fauna and flora as well as its rehabilitation and protection.

Private game reserves play a vital role in conserving our natural environment. Many are outstanding at doing this.

With ever-growing demands on state coffers, a declining revenue base, and the need to prioritise spending, the government will simply not be able to support the extent and scale of conservation efforts in South Africa without private-sector support.

By way of example, for nearly 30 years the conservation project at Shamwari has arrested the impact of human activity and returned, to 25,000ha, the rich diversity for which the area was once renowned.

Much of the ecology has been restored, attracting or allowing for the reintroduction of an abundance of indigenous game, bird and insect life – from the big five to the flightless dung beetle.

Expanding, managing, developing and rehabilitating the land after many years of farming is an ongoing and costly exercise. As is deploying anti-poaching security to protect the wildlife and rehabilitating sick and injured animals.

Contrary to what critics may choose to believe, this isn’t all for the enjoyment of a handful of wealthy overseas tourists. The benefits of conserving our environmental heritage are much greater.

The lessons we’ve learnt over nearly three decades have contributed to a wealth of scientific and practical knowledge about how to rehabilitate land and reintroduce indigenous species.

So, too, has the pioneering work carried out at our wildlife rehabilitation centre, the largest and most advanced of its kind on the continent. State-owned and private reserves around the country make use of its facilities and expertise.

Shamwari and other private reserves have also contributed to studies on the relative socioeconomic impacts of game reserves, which outweigh those of agriculture tenfold.

We’ve learnt and shared lessons about how to reintroduce animals to rehabilitated land. This isn’t limited to the big game, but also benefits species such as the humble oxpecker.

Besides furthering a better understanding of conservation and how to implement it, we also strive to educate and stimulate interest in the subject. We regularly host schools from the surrounding communities as well as encourage visits to the two Born Free facilities on the reserve.

We’re determined that, despite the unprecedented difficulties we’re facing now, this successful conservation project will continue.

To that end, we’ve done everything we can to save costs and limit the effects on our team, without diluting the Shamwari experience. We’ve permanently shut some lodges and have stopped all new development.

We also decided to reopen incrementally, initially opening just two of our seven lodges, Long Lee Manor and Sarili Private Lodge. Sindile reopened this month and Bayethe follows in October. This enables us to keep operating costs down as well as implement strict health protocols.

And we’ve changed our model, repackaging to appeal to the domestic market. As well as offering unprecedented low rates, we’ve implemented initiatives such as the Banquet in the Bush and Safari Unplugged, with Watershed frontman Craig Hinds.

In November we’ll be hosting a weekend for local twitchers to coincide with the Birding Big Day 2021. We’re also looking at other activities such as mountain biking weekends, and we teamed up with Ultimate Braai Master for series seven, which was filmed in the Eastern Cape.

Perhaps our most successful venture to keep Shamwari top-of-mind has been Shamwari TV. This YouTube channel, offering virtual safaris, has proved hugely popular, both here and internationally, and showcases the essence of what the Shamwari conservation project is all about.

Conservation is cripplingly expensive, and the margins are thin, but I hope I’ve made the case for supporting privately funded projects such as Shamwari.

Besides the obvious benefits of sustaining South Africa’s tourism sector and the jobs and income it provides, it is also an investment in conserving our environmental heritage. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for R25 at Pick n Pay, Exclusive Books and airport bookstores. For your nearest stockist, please click here.


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