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DURBAN - African Insight, a provider of inspirational, educational and empowering conservation programmes, has extended its site offerings for groups to the White Elephant Lodge on the Pongola Game Reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal.

African Insight has been providing academic field trips and youth development programmes to universities, colleges and schools for more than 20 years.

Destinations include the world-renowned Kruger National Park, Blyde River Canyon, Drakensberg mountains and Greater St Lucia Wetland Park.

Africa Insight managing director Andrew Anderson said: “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.”

He said this had led to the establishment of the African Insight Academy on Somkhanda with a 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 last year 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 academic and youth development programmes while 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. They loved the idea and have now established a new 30-bed facility for groups, which was launched this month.

“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.”

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.

For more information about the educational, development and academic programmes created by African Insight Academy, contact [email protected] or go to www.africaninsight.co.za

- THE MERCURY