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A CONSERVATION STORY

CONSERVATION

From Tswalu’s earliest days, there has been a recognition that we can only care for and conserve what we can understand. Research has become a vital part of what we do at Tswalu and continues to reveal fascinating aspects of the ecology. Indigenous animal species have been successfully (re)introduced and are thriving.

Our conservation goals are linked to the past, present and future of the southern Kalahari:

1.     To restore the natural environment;

2.     To re-establish and protect biodiversity; and

3.     To maintain the Kalahari’s characteristic ecological processes.

We have adopted a holistic approach to correcting past mistakes, laying the groundwork for long-term ecological and economic viability, and creating a model of conservation supported by ecotourism that can be sustained indefinitely.

HISTORY

The many San Engraving sites at Tswalu testify to the importance with which earlier inhabitants regarded the green Kalahari. It gave them sanctuary and both physical and spiritual nourishment. During the 20th Century, this link between people and their surroundings was disrupted by attempts at cattle farming and hunting.

 

Tswalu is a labour of love for the Oppenheimer family, who took responsibility for this remarkable reserve in 1998 – continuing the vision of the late Stephen Boler, from Manchester in the United Kingdom, whose dream it was to return this land which had been farmed, to its former state. Since then, their commitment to conservation has seen indigenous species re-introduced, and real strides made towards the restoration of the Kalahari, and the undoing of years of neglect.In its new incarnation as a private nature reserve and conservation success story, Tswalu is bringing this ultimate ambition a little closer each day: To leave the world better than how we found it. Tswalu is a conservation-in-progress. Damage caused by previous, farming endeavours is being repaired, with fences and structures being removed, and natural processes are being restored. Tswalu’s national and regional importance as a habitat was acknowledged in 2014 when it was designated as a formally protected area.

 

SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

The Tswalu ecotourism model recognises that the people of the greater Kalahari are an integral part of the ecosystem, and crucial to solving the conservation challenges we all face. Running a viable ecotourism business lets us create upskilling and employment opportunities for people from our closest settlements and provide them with meaningful careers as well as enhanced health and education services.

RELATED STORIES

White-backed vulture conservation

Several breeding nests of white-backed vultures were recently discovered on the reserve for the first time, during BirdLife SA's first audit of Tswalu since becoming South Africa's first Vulture Safe Zone.

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In conversation: Thomas Peschak

Thomas Peschak’s assignments for National Geographic have taken him all over the world. Several months spent with the Tswalu Foundation led to a story for the iconic magazine about the impact of climate change on biodiversity in an arid savannah.
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Secret pollinators of Nerine laticoma

Since Nerine species generally tend to have only one or two pollinators, the glorious proliferation of pollinators of this particular species is fascinating and has led to more questions.


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Conserving the Desert black rhino

Tswalu Kalahari Reserve is regarded as one of Africa’s great conservation stories, not only through the preservation of the southern Kalahari’s diverse habitats but also the protection of many rare and critically endangered species. One such species is the Desert black rhino.
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Unearthing the Kalahari's long human history

Until recently there had been little systematic archaeological research within the expansive, protected area of Tswalu. However, there is clear evidence of human activity extending back in time to at least 500,000 years ago.
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The impact of climate change

There are few, and possibly no other, studies that have aimed to understand responses of multiple species with an entire ecosystem, making KEEP a unique, ground-breaking project.



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