Meet Tswalu’s first sustainability officer
As Tswalu’s recently appointed sustainability officer, Prince Ngomane is keeping the reserve’s sustainability journey on track. It is a rigorous mandate, but one that this passionate conservationist and change agent is fully invested in.
SUSTAINABILITY BEST PRACTICE
After becoming a Fellow Member of The Long Run in 2020, Tswalu began working closely with an experienced sustainability consultant to help measure and assess its sustainability goals. Although consumption of certain resources, such as energy and water, had been monitored prior to joining The Long Run, it was clear that to assess the full impact of the reserve everything needed to be measured. As the saying goes, one cannot improve on what you don’t understand or know.
Gathering and collating all the data required to understand current performance and set improvement targets in all areas is a daunting undertaking. Having a full-time sustainability officer on site to manage the process is already proving to be a major asset.
The Long Run holds each of its fellow members to the highest standards of sustainability across a balanced scorecard of parameters – the 4Cs of conservation, community, culture and commerce. In his role as sustainability officer, Prince is mobilizing, tracking and monitoring the impact of Tswalu’s efforts, in line with Tswalu’s commitments.
Tswalu is committed to working towards best practice in sustainability focusing on the sustainable use of resources, as well as ensuring that its commercial, conservation, community and cultural preservation activities are amongst the best in the world.
APPOINTING A SUSTAINABILITY OFFICER
With seven years of hands-on conservation experience on the reserve, a BSc Honours in Environmental Management and a commitment to activating positive change within the Tswalu community, Prince was the natural choice when the time came to appoint an in-house sustainability officer. He is passionate about changing perceptions around sustainability and would like to see sustainability at work and in the staff villages, as well as across the hospitality business, become part of the community’s DNA.
“Sustainability is about thinking, seeing and acting beyond today, and being able to successfully convey that message to everyone – to get their buy in,” says Prince.
SUSTAINABILITY AND CONSERVATION
Tswalu Kalahari is first and foremost a conservation work-in-progress, supported by a low-impact, high-value model of eco-tourism, which allows economic opportunities to be shared with people from the surrounding communities by providing careers and access to health and education services.
Prince works with a team of sustainability champions from different departments, each representing an aspect of the business. Under his direction, they are working towards implementing and monitoring plans and strategies to ensure that Tswalu remains environmentally, socially and commercially sustainable.
“Conservation is more than just safeguarding habitat and protecting animals. It is about the sustainable use of all natural resources. Stop and think about the value of plants, for example. They provide nourishment and oxygen but also store atmospheric carbon dioxide,” explains Prince.
ROLE OF THE SUSTAINABILITY OFFICER
In his role as sustainability officer, Prince is utilising his strong communication and leadership skills to motivate and inspire the Tswalu community to remain mindful of the balancing act between the nature-based tourism aspect of the reserve and its conservation, community and cultural objectives.
“One of our greatest challenges is changing the habits of individuals who have done something the same way for many years. It starts with the basics and staff sort their household waste into wet and dry, and watch their consumption of water and electricity. Once people understand the impact of individual consumption on the overall carbon footprint, it starts to become easier. Education is key.”
But sustainability goes beyond the management of energy, waste and water. It is the recognition that our world is a complex and dynamic system of interdependencies, requiring a constant rebalancing of people, planet and profit in an integrated way. Using a sustainability lens through which to view the business ensures that it can endure into the future, without exhausting its resources, be they human, financial or environmental. With Prince and his sustainability champions working tirelessly to make every effort count, Tswalu aspires to move beyond the zero-impact paradigm of ‘doing no harm’ to become a regenerative force for good.
Sustainability is a continuous journey of improvement, of taking incremental steps to amplify the positive impacts and mitigate the negative ones. It is about integrating the needs of the greater community with the integrity of nature – Tswalu’s vision to restore the southern Kalahari – for the benefit of future generations.
Making photos for National Geographic
The photographer, Thomas Peschak, takes us behind the lens to reveal the creativity, patience, time and luck that went into these once-in-a-lifetime shots.
The hyenas that call Tswalu home
Neither dog nor cat, there are three species of the hyena family found in Southern Africa, namely the aardwolf, brown hyena and spotted hyena. All three occur in the Kalahari and have made Tswalu their home.