World Wildlife Month – Commemoration Meets Action
World Wildlife Day was officially declared by the United Nations General Assembly on 20th December 2013, at the convention’s 68th gathering. It was decided that the commemorative day would fall on March 3rd every year – intended to raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants, which are facing global man-made threats to habitat and survival.
This year, World Wildlife Day announced a poignant theme for this month, and year: Recovering key species for ecosystem restoration. The foundation sets the tone in their 2022 initiative video:
It is a movement that we are deeply passionate about – not just in celebrating and raising awareness, but in taking measurable actions at our own magnificent Abelana Game Reserve.
When we acquired this land in 2018, the reserve had seen years of insufficient management. Actual habitat management had been sorely lacking, and it showed. We love this Mother Continent that we call home, in all her natural wild glory, and we saw the immense potential in these 15,000 hectares of wilderness. We saw potential for recovery, growth, and for expansion.
We still do.
Helping nature recover is hard work, as any on-the-ground, front-line initiative will quickly discover. While the COVID-19 pandemic hit the business element of our reserve hard, just months after acquiring Abelana Game Reserve, we found ourselves with both the manpower and extra time to get ahead on many of the species and habitat recovery plans that we’d put in place. These include:
- Removal of alien plant species: Invasive species that aren’t native to our region are a major threat to natural biodiversity, often disrupting the delicate balance of entire ecosystems.
- Bush-clearing and thinning out bushveld: While it may seem counter-intuitive to the reserve’s recovery, thinning out thick, overgrown bushveld recreates natural grassland for better grazing. At the onset of this project, we were clearing 80 hectares of bush per month. We are now clearing 160 hectares per month!
- Improving road networks: We’ve improved existing roads and developed new roads. These are essential for monitoring key areas of the reserve and even impact drainage lines. Improving our road networks also leads to better game viewing and wildlife photography opportunities for our guests.
- Supplementing wild game numbers: To increase herd numbers and stabilise our existing populations, many of which had dwindled badly prior to Abelana’s lease of the land, we’re bringing in additional game. Among many other species, these include zebra, eland, tsessebe, nyala and ostrich.
- Strengthening anti-poaching efforts: We are active in the fight against poaching of our precious wildlife – from actual on-the-ground units and resources to education programmes conducted in collaboration with the surrounding communities.
“From where we were just over two years ago, we can see a real difference,” says Ian Beauchamp, Abelana Game Reserve CEO. “Through close partnership with stakeholders and the community, and the dedication of those serving on the reserve, we’ve accomplished a great deal in the recovery of this beautiful land. It’s incredibly satisfying as a business to see such progress, and certainly very encouraging for the long-term.”
It’s both exciting and inspiring to see how, when given a hand, nature flourishes. It’s our hope that our continued efforts will not only re-transform our own wilderness paradise but inspire other properties to do the same.
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