“From the moment man erected fences he placed upon himself the burden of managing the land and its wildlife. He also fenced out communities in need of natural resources. Our responsibility is to ensure the survival of nature and sustain rural communities through tourism and other business activities.”
In South Africa, we have created wildlife sanctuaries and protected areas, re-introduced many species into the protected areas and relocated elephants from over-populated areas in a bid to save them from culling. But the sanctuaries are fenced islands – and communities dependent on some natural resources were fenced out! The restricted fenced areas will not allow for natural migration and soon we will have to implement control measures on the elephant populations in the reserves in Zululand.
And so, in an attempt to find solutions to the challenges facing elephants and our region’s rural communities ‘Space for Elephants’ was founded.
The aims and objectives of Space for Elephants:
- Not to encroach on or include land desperately needed by our surrounding communities;
- To find narrow strips of land for walkways or corridors to link one wildlife island to another and so attempt to restore ancient elephant migratory routes;
- To create economic opportunities along these corridors for the rural communities by means of craft and market places, viewing hides and other tourism projects;
- To generate funds to assist these communities through training opportunities and tourism workshops; and
- To generate funds to continue scientific research on our elephant populations and other wildlife species.
“We are striving, through Space for Elephants Foundation, towards long term solutions for our elephant populations, towards a vision that will open economic opportunities to rural communities and rekindle the ancient spirit and pride of Africa.”
- To return and manage in a sustainable manner elephants and other indigenous species so as to enhance the biodiversity of plants, animals, water and land;
- To establish corridors and create space to allow species to migrate, disperse, propagate and live life in accordance with their natural inborn behavioural and physical requirements;
- To provide opportunities to the communities to start their own businesses, participate in established businesses and re-enforce cultural and family values and permanence of the local people in the region;
- To promote and create opportunities for education and training on conservation, the environment, tourism and business enterprise;
- To gain knowledge and research the needs of wildlife and allow for better conservation methods to the benefit of all; and
- To provide tourists with a heightened knowledge of elephants and their environment through the unique ‘elephanting’ experience.
The mission of Space for Elephants is to find a long term solution to challenges facing elephants in a fenced and fragmented environment, through partnerships, knowledge-sharing and educating the local communities about the importance of sustainable wildlife, conservation and tourism for social and economic upliftment. The organisation’s vision is to have the game reserves of Zululand linked by corridors to form a large biosphere.
People can join the Space for Elephants Foundation through one-off or regular donations. Members will be entitled to free ‘elephanting’ trips in participating game reserves. Elephanting is an educational activity for visitors to an area to gain an understanding of our elephants and the challenges they face in our fenced and protected areas.
The Space for Elephants Foundation helped to establish the Trading Post Museum located in Pongola Game Reserve. The museum displays the influence of the ancient elephant routes on man’s modern way of life, especially in the construction of roads and railways. Geology and archaeological exhibits also form part of the museum. The museum also houses the Space for Elephants Research Centre where knowledge is being gathered so as to manage this biome better. Visitors to the museum are delighted by the handcrafts and collectibles on sale.