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Our experiential courses expose participants to the various styles of management that govern these areas and the economic models that govern them. For example, 80% of biodiversity that falls within the world renowned Cape Floral Kingdom is privately owned. The Cape Floral Kingdom is one of only six floral kingdoms globally and among the world’s 25 most threatened biodiversity hotspots. South Africa, in general, is recognized as biologically diverse. Covering only 2% of the worlds land mass, South Africa is home to:
And South Africa hosts 3 of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspots (Scholes & Biggs 2004, DEAT 2005).
For biodiversity preservation and conservation, public private conservation initiatives will be required.
The total land area covered by statutory protected areas is only around 5% (Goodman et al. 2002). It is not only too small to protect biodiversity in the long term (Krug 2001) but does not adequately represent all habitat types. With little scope to enlarge the network of public protected areas (Botha 2001) and with more than 80% of the land in South Africa in private hands (Patterson and Khosa 2005), including much rare habitat (Botha 2001), there have been calls for conservation to look outside of protected areas and involve private landowners (Krug 2001, Botha 2001, Scriven and Eloff 2003).
Conservation Global has selected footprints that reflect the diverse nature of species and land ownership, and takes course participants into spaces that reflect this unique dynamic.
The Addo Elephant National Park (AENP) is very well known both in South Africa and internationally.
Relatively few people have access to the southern most part of AENP, an area referred to as the Woody Cape Nature Reserve (Alexandria Forest) – a totally different biome to the bush thicket of the AENP main camp. This biome borders the ocean, separated from the ocean by the largest, most impressive and least degraded dunefield in South Africa – one that is arguably the most spectacular in the world.
Conservation Global hosts deliver a perfect environment for people from all over the world to gather and immerse themselves in conservation management discussion. People who have a deep love for nature and an interest in conservation management, can gain insight into case studies and real issues and challenges pertaining to conservation management. Programs run with Conservation Global aim to bring delegates in direct contact with real conservation management issues and in so doing meet the objectives of CG institutes by bridging the chasm between theory and what is happening at grass routes. The concept gives nature lovers and conservationists access to a variety of amazing areas and in turn creates a sustainable business model, plenty of wildlife species, and people who are living from natural resources.
This unique area is home to two primary biomes – fynbos and forest.
Most significant is the fact that the Garden Route National Park is the only National Park in South Africa that is not surrounded by fences. However, it is home to the last wild elephants that once comprised one of the biggest genetic pools of elephants that are truly South African.
The Afro-temperate forest covers just over 35 000 hectares, hosting approximately 486 different plant species. The fynbos areas are relatively small and are classified mountain fynbos. Notable is the occurrence of fynbos islands, completely surrounded by forest.
In an attempt to increase protected areas, initiatives such as the Eden To Addo corridor have been adopted to link significant biomes and conservation areas. The Eden to Addo corridor will link the Garden Route National Park with the Addo Elephant National Park via Bavianskloof, thus creating possibly one of the most diverse conservation areas in South Africa.
My week spent on Gondwana Game Reserve with Conservation Global was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I was fortunate enough to travel to South Africa with Franklin University Switzerland on academic travel in the spring of 2015. Bonding with the staff and learning about the animals in their natural environment made for one incredible week. Each day was filled with activities and lectures that were as entertaining as they were educational. As a group we had a lecture in the morning either from a member of the knowledge staff or from a local expert. We learned about native bee populations and were treated to honey samples from the region and were given a demonstration on the practice of tagging and tracking animals on the reserve. Perhaps the most memorable was when we were taught how to properly handle a tranquilizer gun and had a competition to see who could get a bullseye! After the morning lecture, the group would split up for the safari in which the staff took great care to make sure we saw as many animals as possible. Later in the afternoon we would regroup for a drink and to admire the scenery. I have the utmost respect for Conservation Global and the work they are doing—hoping to return to South Africa soon!
Conservation Global provided a comprehensive and engaging travel experience for a group of seasoned travelers. My expectations were exceeded due to the organization’s ability to strike a balance between learning and fun, academics were firmly grounded as the motivation for all activities. We had access to sustainability focused thought leaders who were great privileges to learn from; many of whom were only accessible through this fantastic organization and their vast network of environmentalists. From a beautiful sunrise hike of Lion’s Head in Cape Town to spending time with the students at Tsiba college in Knysna, I would happily relive this trip in a heartbeat. I am grateful for Conservation Global and the time and energy they put in to ensure a memorable, inspiring and educational South African adventure for all involved.