Leopard Research Project, Greater Kruger

By | Conservation
Focused research on leopards through data collection assists with conservation solutions that protect species and individuals, and contributes to the health of the entire ecosystem.
Population of large carnivores are threatened and experiencing declines in numbers globally. Over a third of South Africa’s leopard habitat is found in just Limpopo province, yet 95% of that is outside of formally protected areas. Despite these issues, the majority of population and conservation-based research has occurred in protected areas. This has led to a lack of data or unreliable results to inform conservation practice.

It is vital that data collection be conducted on private land and that populations are studied in these areas to work towards evidence-based conservation practice. Ultimately, it is only through focused research in these areas that we can develop conservation solutions that will protect these species and individuals livelihoods, thus contributing to the health of entire ecosystems.

Through the camera traps bought and in use we are hoping to:
– Leopard captures (photos collected on camera traps)
– Corridors monitored
– Density Studies completed
– Territorial/movement maps created for various predator species
– Snare sweeps completed

We have just launched this project as a microproject to fundraise for camera traps, and have raised enough for 8 camera traps so far.

Sasekile Gardens, Greater Kruger

By | Empowering Communities
Developing skills for unemployed youth through creating community gardens and small business opportunities.
The Greater Kruger region of South Africa experiences severe unemployment, poverty, and a lack of basic education. This is especially true of the youth living in the area, with 15-24 year olds making up 70% of all those unemployed in Mpumalanga.

Despite tourism and conservation being the biggest income stream to the area, most youth community members do not benefit from this tourism, largely due to the lack of education, skills training and access to information to allow them to apply for jobs. In addition to this, a lack of knowledge on the local environment and how to protect proves a threat to the natural wildlife and environment.

The cycle of poor education, poverty and health issues create an environment in which communities struggle to escape. The youth in the area receive limited education from under-resourced facilities, coupled with the lack of practical experience needed to attain and retain employment ultimately limits their ability to get jobs and create a stable income. This further contributes to the unemployment in the area and an increase in poverty levels.

Our initial goal is to help these unemployed young people to sustain themselves and their families through growing vegetables to supplement their diet for self sufficiency. Once this is achieved we will seek with the young people to build their skills for income generation.

We are currently working in partnership with Maputha Ditshaba High School who have offered us a piece of land that we will create a community garden to help local community members sustain themselves and their families and increase income generation. Initially high school graduates will have the opportunity to learn new skills and a sustainable way of feeding themselves and their families. It will be a self-sustaining model where the youth will receive equipment and training in the garden to be able to produce vegetables for their own sustenance as well as producing seedling boxes for others. As a second phase we will provide training in basic business skills to assist with future income generation and further education.

Short Term Impact: The high school graduates will be able to provide nutritious vegetables for themselves and their families as well as learning food gardening skills.

Long Term Impact: The youth will create seedling boxes and vegetables to sell for income generation and so they can start their own garden at home. These youths will be using seedlings to start their own garden at home or continue into commercial farming to maximize income generation and partner with local businesses.

Bushbuckridge Local Municipality is one of the five constituents of Ehlanzeni District Municipality in Mpumalanga. Basic services such as running water, sanitation and health care are all under developed in this rural area. The area suffers severe unemployment, poverty, high rates of HIV/AIDS and a lack of basic education.

Many of the local residents live with family or extended family in basic housing due to the levels of poverty in the area, and the level of education is low with many of the population aged 20 years and above having no formal schooling. Although rates of Primary School attendance are improving, further and higher education in the area remains a challenge. This, in turn, increases the high unemployment rate, which currently sits at over 50%.

We have received permission for the use of the land from the Maputha Ditshaba High School and land is being prepared for the gardens. July 2017: we have garden we completed 87 garden beds with compost and started planting. We have now planted 1615 seedlings now, of cabbage, beetroot, spring onion, chillies, spinach, tomatoes and green pepper.
August 2017 We are more than half way through building the fence and it already looks really nice. The gardeners are really proud of it! They are also taking good care of the garden by removing aphids very often and by keeping the path clean. The vegetables are growing super fast, it’s amazing to see the differences each week. The team have also started to put in place an innovative watering system with 2L plastic bottles. By planting them upside down in the soil, we won’t lose water through evaporation and because the water goes deeper in the soil the plants will grow deeper and stronger roots. The gardeners and the volunteers are already collecting them and we have already planted 15 of them. Adding to that, we put in place mulching. The idea is to cover the soil with a layer of hay/dry grass in order to retain the water in the soil and to keep it protected.
The next steps are building the compost bins and to get some aromatic herbs to fight against some pests.