One of the luxury houses that will go up at the new Mayibuye Community Game Reserve. Artist's impression: Varaross
One of the luxury houses that will go up at the new Mayibuye Community Game Reserve. Artist's impression: Varaross

New KZN game park soon a reality

By BARBARA COLE Time of article published Apr 15, 2014

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Durban - A proposed Big Five game reserve within half an hour’s drive of Durban and Pietermaritzburg has now taken a step nearer reality.

Four years after the ceremonial ribbon was cut, plans for the Mayibuye Community Game Reserve, which currently covers 4 600 hectares and will eventually stretch from Camperdown to Inanda Dam in the east and up to the Wartburg area in the north, have now been approved.

Construction is due to begin at the end of the month on the gatehouse and services to the first housing development. The project will comprise three boutique lodges, 210 luxury houses as well as 120 lifestyle units.

The perimeter fencing will be in place by October and then game will be introduced with giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, kudu and other buck being the first species, followed by the Big Five. And history will be made when wild elephants are reintroduced to the area for the first time in 150 years.

Mayibuye comprises land taken from the residents in forced removals during the apartheid era and then successfully claimed back through the Land Commission by the 445 displaced members of the Mayibuye Community Trust.

The project was inspired by Lawrence Anthony, the legendary conservationist, elephant whisperer and best-selling author. Anthony, who died two years ago, believed that game reserves could only be sustainable with community involvement.

Peter Kennedy of the Pinetown-based BFG (Business For Good) Retail company, introduced Anthony to the land-claim site in 2008 and they both agreed it would make a spectacular game reserve.

Together with Lawrence’s colleagues, conservationist, David Bozas and Yvette Taylor of The Earth Organisation, they started planning the pioneering project on the simple exchange: the community commits their land to conservation in return for education and opportunity.

The creation of Mayibuye introduces a new model between community upliftment, conservation and commerce, Kennedy says.

And it is being endorsed by the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the Department of Environmental Affairs as the “new blueprint for conservation and community upliftment”, he added.

“One may ask what retail has to do with a game reserve, but we are aiming to empower the community not only by providing jobs through the construction phase of the reserve, as well as running the various aspects of the project, but through the BFG Retail factory.

“Already, a large majority of our staff are from the Mayibuye community but have to travel to our Pinetown premises to work.

“To eliminate the ‘migrant labour’ issue, BFG is in the process of renovating an additional 2 000m2 factory on the Mayibuye Game Reserve, as the first stage of its relocation to the project.”

This is due to be operational by September, and by November, 2015, BFG’s principle operation will have moved to Mayibuye. The company is in partnership with the Mayibuye community through an equity trust and it will result in some 150 to 200 new jobs.

Social upliftment projects are already in place with five crèches providing two meals a day to more than 400 children. - Daily News

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