African Insight Launches New Operation on Pongola Game Reserve, KZN, South Africa
African Insight, one of the continent’s leading providers of inspirational, educational and empowering conservation programmes has announced that it has extended its site offerings for groups to the White Elephant Lodge on Pongola Game Reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
African Insight has been providing academic field trips and youth development programmes to universities, colleges and schools for over 20 years. Destinations include Kruger National Park, Blyde River Canyon, KZN Drakensberg Mountains and Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park.
“In 2013 we were contracted to train 16 community members in hospitality and through this process were able to further develop our unique brand of academic tourism on the community-owned Somkhanda Game Reserve in the Zululand region in KwaZulu-Natal,” explains Andrew Anderson, MD of Africa Insight.
Anderson explains that “this led to the establishment of the African Insight Academy on Somkhanda with the vision to Inspire, Educate and Empower future global environmental custodians locally and abroad. The facilities developed on Somkhanda include two safari style tented student camps that can accommodate 20 and 30 students respectively and a rustic “sleep out” camp.”
At the end of October 2018, the contract expired, and the hospitality side of the operation was handed back to Somkhanda’s management company. African Insight Academy continues to operate on Somkhanda as a venue for its highly successful academic and youth development programmes whilst looking for new venues to accommodate the growing demand.
“The market for additional capacity to accommodate groups led us to talks with the owners of Pongola Game Reserve’s White Elephant operation, who loved the idea and they have now established a new 30 bed facility for groups which was launched in January 2019,” says Anderson.
“Our African Insight Academy on Somkhanda and now on Pongola provides practical field experience in wildlife behaviour and management exposing students to a variety of research, monitoring and conservation programmes and community engagement.”
“Conservation and wildlife tourism that does not embrace the surrounding local community is unsustainable,” continues Anderson. “It is because of this that we have been actively involved in building sustainable socio-economic bridges between Somkhanda and the community resulting in the established of several programmes, such as cattle dipping, early childhood development and authentic homestays. These programmes provide real support to the community whilst offering students an educational insight into contemporary traditional cultural and social-political issues. These same principles will be applied in the development of the site at Pongola.”
“We have had a phenomenal response over the years to these programmes, which has led to the need for more sites,” says Anderson. “And of course, there is nothing quite like an authentic African bush experience to capture the hearts and minds of our future conservationists, scientists and the like.”
The University of Roehampton in the UK has had a decade long partnership with African Insight Academy: with the two institutions working together to deliver the module Conservation. People, and Wildlife: South Africa Field Course to final year undergraduate students of anthropology, biology and zoology. Prof Garry Marvin, Professor of Anthropology at the University, has seen the positive impact these trips have had on them and the university, saying “the close engagement that our students, through the field trips, have with the complex issues of conservation in situ, offers a rich educational experience beyond that which they would have from only reading the academic literature on conservation.”
Dr Heinz Kohrs, owner of White Elephant Lodge is excited to partner with the African Insight Academy on Pongola Game Reserve and looks forward to “being part of this important initiative that is having a positive impact on the next generation of global citizens and environmental custodians”.
MD African Insight Academy