July 16, 2024

Off-the-grid and sustainable solutions even more important in wildlife settings

3 min read

Sustainability and off-the-grid solutions have become more popular in urban settings in recent years due to the non-delivery by South Africa’s municipalities when it comes to basic services. However, within wildlife and game reserve settings, it holds profound significance on multiple fronts.

At its core, it serves as a bulwark for biodiversity conservation, safeguarding the rich tapestry of flora and fauna that inhabit these ecosystems. By implementing sustainable management practices, private game reserves like Royal Jozini not only preserve species diversity but also uphold the delicate balance of entire ecosystems – encouraging stability that ripples outward to benefit surrounding regions and communities.

Jay Azran, general manager at Royal Jozini Private Game Reserve, shares his insights on how they have incorporated off-the-grid elements and sustainable practices to the estate which set a new standard for the broader industry:

At Royal Jozini Private Game Reserve, sustainability isn’t just a buzzword – it’s the cornerstone of our ethos and the driving force behind everything we do. Sustainability at Royal Jozini is multifaceted, encompassing environmental, social, economic and cultural dimensions. We’ve had the privilege of witnessing the evolution of our approach to sustainability over the years and have learnt that it boils down to striking a delicate balance between conservation and development, ensuring our actions today leave a positive legacy for generations to come. This holistic approach forms the bedrock of our operations, guiding every decision we make.

Royal Jozini has been completely off-grid since inception in 2006. We promote solar power usage in all lodges with minimal generator back-up power, only needed during continued cloudy days. Our water treatment plant is currently powered by a generator unit, but there are plans to convert to solar. All our boreholes are solar-powered, as is the electric game fence. There is no shortage of sun in the Eswatini area in which we are situated, so we make the best of it.

Our architectural guidelines promote the development of lodges and infrastructure in a low-impact, aesthetic and environmentally friendly manner. Our road signs are locally harvested rock with a basic white spray paint for the name. Our objective is to constantly apply an eco-sensitive approach in the development of all regulations and protocols for the development as well as the operation of the housing estate and the greater reserve.

All lodges are to be designed as independent off-grid units. Current lodge owners have developed a set of development guidelines based on their own experiences, and prevailing best practice norms and standards for the industry – and thus lodge developments within the housing estate are undertaken with sustainability and minimal environmental disturbance in mind.

Our journey hasn’t been without its challenges. From political uncertainties to terrain complexities, we have faced various obstacles along the way. However, each challenge has presented an opportunity for growth and innovation. It is our sincere objective and hope to restore as near to a complete suite of wildlife species to the landscape as possible; and to manage these wildlife populations through the guidance of experienced conservationists in such a way that they and the greater ecosystem are conserved as near to a functioning state, and in as optimal a balance as is possible.

Thanks to the expertise imparted by Dave Reynolds, our reserve’s contracted conservationist, significant advances have been made with the rewilding process of the game reserve, with a significant portion of the original suite of indigenous wildlife species having been reintroduced. These, as well as the residual populations, have established well, with plans afoot to introduce some of the rarer species such as cheetah.

Ultimately, the industry is founded on the unique, pristine and aesthetic landscapes in which tourism developments, operations and activities are based. Sustainable approaches are necessary to ensure the original drawcards of each area remain as pristine as possible to ensure the continued success of the industry into the future.

So, adopting these kinds of practices is not essential just because it’s deemed as necessary due to being in outerlying areas – but even more so with a long-term vision in mind.

Leave a Reply