20 years of Conservation and Community
This year Amakhala Game Reserve celebrates 20 years of Conservation and Community, continuing to thrive as a unique example of how communities can convert agricultural land to ecotourism and create a viable tourism economy, while protecting our wildlife and uplifting the local community.
Amakhala was formed in 1999 when four farming families joined their farms together in a collaborative ecotourism venture. This facilitated a remarkable transformation from separate cattle and sheep farms to a single 8 500 hectare reserve. Today, guests from around the world enjoy fantastic game viewing opportunities in a diverse landscape that includes sweeping plains, towering cliffs and the meandering Bushman’s River. Ten camps and lodges provide the visitors with a selection of accommodation, ranging from intimate tented camps to luxury five star lodges, all within the tranquil environment of the African bush.
Over the past 20 years, they have embraced the challenge of re-establishing the original flora and fauna that historically occurred in the area. Founder populations were introduced, and as the wildlife population increased, a dedicated Ecology Unit was created to monitor and manage Amakhala’s wildlife, vegetation, and the relationship between the two. In 2018, Amakhala Game Reserve was awarded Protected Area Status by the Eastern Cape Provincial Government in recognition of its contribution to the conservation of biodiversity in South Africa.
Wildlife conservation on Amakhala also encompasses multi-layered anti-poaching measures, including a professional anti-poaching unit (APU) and a dedicated rhino monitoring program, funded by a Conservation Levy.
The on-going effort to conserve these natural resources for future generations has enabled us to contribute to the development of sustainable tourism in the Eastern Cape – offering visitors the opportunity to appreciate the natural landscapes, indigenous wildlife and unique local culture.
As community is very important to them, the Amakhala Foundation was founded in 2009 to support and uplift the surrounding community in various ways. At the Amakhala Conservation Centre, the Foundation provides environmental education programs where children from the surrounding area come to learn about their environment, wildlife conservation and sustainability.
Through workshops and training programmes, the Foundation equips community members with knowledge and skills to improve their lives. Local artists also generate income through our Craft Centre, where guests and members of the public can purchase hand-crafted items.
The Foundation’s bursary fund provides young children in the Amakhala community the opportunity to attend the local Sidbury Primary School, and funding is also provided for the nearby iJosi preschool and Isipho Charity Trust, which cares for 300 orphans.