KEEPING TRACK OF OUR SUSTAINABILITY JOURNEY
Prince Ngomane has played an active role in helping to restore and sustain the historic biodiversity of the Kalahari ecosystem, first as a conservator and, more recently, as Tswalu’s first ever sustainability officer. With his hands-on conservation experience, BSc Honours in Environmental Management and influence within the Tswalu community, Prince was the natural choice to head up our mission to drive positive impact and change.
Described by senior conservator Richard Satekge as “a practical guy, who gets on with things”, Prince started his journey with Tswalu Kalahari eight years ago as a conservation intern. It was the first step in fulfilling his long-held dream of protecting the natural environment while working at the cutting edge of conservation. For a young man who grew up in a rural village in Mpumalanga, It was an ambitious plan. Instead of allowing disadvantage to hold him back, Prince chose to work hard, driven by a thirst for knowledge and a determination to encourage young South Africans not to be defined by their start in life.
In his role as sustainability officer, Prince has been guided by the principle that you cannot improve on what you don’t understand or know. To understand current performance and set reduction and improvement targets, it is necessary to collect and collate information from all areas of the business. The introduction of Weeva, an app-based sustainability management tool, has made this job easier. Using Weeva, Prince and the rest of the team can measure, track, and improve operational efficiency and impact across all departments in real time. Integrated dashboards and smart metrics provide deeper operational insight into the business. When you have data literally at your fingertips, it is much easier to cut waste and correct operational inefficiencies, ultimately saving money and time. With Weeva, data capture and built-in tasks can easily be assigned to different users, ensuring widespread contribution to the sustainability practice.
Regeneration has always been at the heart of Tswalu’s vision to conserve and restore the biodiversity of the semi-arid southern Kalahari, one of the largest remaining tracts of wilderness in South Africa. Fencing and over-grazing, the result of generations of cattle and sheep farming, had restricted seasonal wildlife movement, denuded the landscape and hastened ecological degradation. Today, recognised as the largest privately protected area in South Africa, Tswalu remains dedicated to the regeneration of the environment. Research supported by the Tswalu Foundation informs conservation decisions, providing a comprehensive, science-based understanding of the fragile Kalahari ecosystem.
Funding to sustain Tswalu’s conservation vision is supported by nature-based tourism. Just three luxury safari camps provide exclusive access to the reserve’s 114,000 hectares – a low-impact, high-value safari model that equates to very few beds in relation to the vastness of the reserve. In 2020, Tswalu joined other privately protected areas pioneering conservation in remote places by becoming a member of The Long Run. We are proud to be a member of this collaborative global community leveraging the power of business for the health of the planet and the well-being of people.
With the climate crisis making transparency in the conservation space more critical than ever before, Tswalu’s annual impact statement, a credible economic nutrition label based on actual achievements rather than projected figures, provides tangible evidence of the positive impact of nature-based tourism on a wide range of conservation and community initiatives. It also leaves our guests with a clearer understanding of the cost of conservation by being transparent about where the money goes and what it takes to operate sustainably.
Tswalu is committed to sustainability while acknowledging that it is a work in progress with continuous room for improvement, requiring incremental steps to amplify the positive impacts and mitigate the negative ones. Tapping into Weeva’s sophisticated capabilities is enabling us to substantiate our ideals with data, inspired by The Long Run’s framework of balancing conservation goals with commercial, community and cultural objectives. By choosing Tswalu, our guests become part of a bold conservation legacy that has been almost 30 years in the . Each guest is having a positive impact on our long-term vision to leave the world better than how we found it.
Keep an eye out for more stories about how we are using Weeva to improve every aspect of our operations, from local procurement of seasonal produce for our menus to the impact of our health care centre on the communities surrounding Tswalu Kalahari Reserve.
TSWALU’S POSITIVE IMPACT ON NATURE AND PEOPLE
Tswalu’s annual impact statement provides a snapshot of ‘where the money goes’, what it takes to operate sustainably, and the power of nature-based tourism to positively impact conservation and community initiatives.
THE VALUE OF SECURING VULTURE-SAFE TERRITORIES ACROSS AFRICA
Marcus Westberg provides insight into vulture conservation - both the wins and the challenges - and the value of Vulture Safe Zones, like Tswalu, that provide safe habitat for vultures to reestablish populations across Africa.