Conservation & Social Responsibility
As the stewards of 15,000 acres of pristine bowhunting land in South Africa’s Karoo region, we take our responsibility for conservation and social justice seriously. Animal welfare, environmental protection, and childhood education in the communities that surround us are integral parts of our business model.
We currently have 30 different species of animals on our property—not including all the native birds, small mammals and reptiles that have made their home here. Habitat loss is by far the single most important factor for declining animal populations. By creating and preserving a habitat for these species to thrive, we provide a clear example of hunters as true custodians of wildlife.
Here’s how we’re making a difference:
As responsible landowners/managers, we ensure that animal numbers don’t exceed the land’s ability to support them. This safeguards not only an abundant food supply for the animals, but also prevents over-grazing, which would lead to erosion and land degradation. We carefully manage the animal numbers by doing annual counts of all species from the ground, and an aerial count every five years. Over-populations are captured and relocated to other areas in South Africa, where the species can thrive with ample land and food.
Animal welfare is closely related to the management of the land and animal populations. If the land and vegetation is cared for, there will be enough food to ensure the welfare of our animals. Multiple watering points have been set up across the area we manage to ensure animals have ample water during the dry seasons.
Blood being drawn for genetic testing
Once critically endangered, now herd numbers large enough to accommodate sustainable hunting
We closely monitor our herd genetics and introduce new animals to ensure there will be a mixing of genes and increased genetic diversity. In turn, this guarantees that animals don’t lose fertility due to inbreeding and sustains a strong, healthy animal population, with resilient animals. Older bulls are removed from herds to ensure productivity and to allow for new genes to enter the system.
Offloading new animals for genetic diversity in herds
Mountain zebra and bontebok are two endangered species indigenous to the area and our herd numbers are increasing every year. Eventually some of these animals will be relocated to other parts of the country to increase and improve other vulnerable populations.
The Karoo is one of the most arid regions of South Africa, with long periods of limited rainfall interspersed with heavy rains, which contribute to erosion. Our projects include building rock gabions and creating canals and dams to slow and catch the running water. We rehabilitate bare areas by digging small dams to collect water and trap seeds, covering the area with tree branches and garden refuse to hold water and protect new growth. We’ve had great success with this method and it’s a real reward to see previously bare areas covered by healthy vegetation.
Difference in area we have rehabilitated vs provincial park bordering on us
Example of land rehab - where new plant growth is clear around trench in previously barren area
Example of land rehab - where new plant growth is clear around trench in previously barren area, water catchment after rain visible
Focusing on Families
Eight local families live and work on the property, with a combined 16 children reliant on the income and food that the adults derive solely from the farm. Some of our families are single women with several children who are completely dependent on the farm and their jobs at our lodge.
We focus strongly on education—both for the adults and the children. To further stimulate and encourage development, we’ve set up a jungle gym for the younger kids and give older students school stationery and necessities for Christmas each year. We pride in our staff’s families’ keen interest in nature and the animals we have on the property. This is evident when we journey to town, where the staff often identifies and talks about the animals we see on our way—to each other and to the children.
To help keep our families healthy, we established a vegetable garden to provide the staff with fresh produce throughout the year. We also provide meat from the farm, which is the staff’s main source of protein. Because the government mobile health clinic is unreliable, we support our female staff when they need to go to the clinic in town for medical appointments, family planning and child welfare.
Supporting local businesses and contractors results in a big inflow of funding directly into the local community. When we have excess vegetables from our farm garden, we deliver these to the hospice and other charities in the closest town of Cradock. This provides some much-needed relief and food provisions to these non-profit organizations.
Through the Amy Bell charitable foundation—a charity focused on the wellbeing of 158 children that have been affected by AIDS—we sponsor local children through primary and high school. Our contribution helps provide transportation to school as well as after-school care and activities like sports. Through the charity, we’re also sponsoring college education for some of these gifted pupils.
Additionally, we support the Nomzamo School for children with mental disabilities, and Cradock Preparatory—providing education, clothing and food for children between the ages of 5-9 from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Beyond schooling, we contribute to the Amy Bell charitable foundation’s efforts that include home visitation of the children and assisting the children and their caregivers with the necessary social, life skills and responsibilities.