STATEMENT FROM THE COMMERCIAL LODGES OF THE TIMBAVATI
Regarding the recent article by Don Pinnock and the related social media campaign against the lodges of the Timbavati that is currently circulating online, the commercial game lodges within the Timbavati Reserve wish to clarify their position, and outline their contribution to the protection of all fauna and flora within the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve.
- 1. The article and the related statements around hunting, especially of a big tusker, are a complete misrepresentation of the facts. The comments that have been published are not aligned to the facts that were openly shared with the journalist. We consider this article to be hugely irresponsible, in fact it looks more like a focused attack on the Timbavati with the intent to discredit the good name of the reserve.
- 2. The commercial game lodges which operate within the Timbavati are independent businesses, which have their operations located in the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve. Whilst all of the commercial game lodges operate within the rules and regulations set down in the constitution of the reserve, their operations are entirely independent of the Timbavati reserve management. The commercial game lodges are not responsible for the management of the reserve, nor do they make decisions on how to fund the conservation efforts within the reserve.
- 3. NO commercial game lodges which operates within the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve are involved with trophy hunting in any way. The commercial game lodges offer only photographic safaris and we do everything in our power to be sensitive to the animals and plants which we have the privilege of sharing the wilderness with.
- 4. No guests of any of the commercial game lodges have had their safari experience negatively impacted by hunting or culling that is undertaken by the reserve management, and none of the safari activities take place within any hunting areas. In fact due to the excellent management of the Timbavati the game viewing is exceptionally strong.
- 5. It is important to note, that there are only 19 commercial game lodges operating within the Timbavati reserve, whilst there are a total of 47 landowners. The commercial lodges are in the minority and remain largely a ‘small voice” when it comes to reserve management decisions. In addition, many of the commercial lodges within the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve are tenants in the reserve, in much the same way as the game lodges that operate as concessions within the Kruger National Park itself.
- 6. The commercial lodges also recognize that, as with the Kruger National Park, the Timbavati reserve management needs to raise revenue to manage the conservation efforts of the reserve. Furthermore due to wildlife crime (such as rhino poaching), the reserve faces sky-rocketing increases in the security costs of the reserve - up by over 800% in the past 5 years alone. However, unlike the Kruger National Park, the Timbavati reserve management does not receive any government or NGO funding for such efforts. At the same time, without any contributions from government, the Timbavati serves as a security buffer to the Kruger National Park.
- 7. The commercial game lodges within the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve are responsible for attracting paying guests to the Reserve, and in raising income through conservation levies. This forms part of the much needed revenue for the Timbavati to survive as a protected area. Through the conservation levies, the commercial operations currently contribute 17% of the total Timbavati income budget, which is significant, but in no way comes close to funding the full conservation effort of the reserve.
- 8. The commercial lodges also provide significant benefits to the reserve and surrounding areas in terms of protection of wildlife and by creating livelihoods for members of the local communities. It is critical to note that the commercial lodges in the Timbavati employ around 300 people from the surrounding communities, and with an average dependent’s ratio of about 1:10, we are financially supporting around 3000 people, thus achieving a direct financial injection of over R20 million annually into those communities. Skills transfer and training is also an added benefit that cannot be overlooked.
- 9. We believe that it is important to understand that any negative impact on public support of the commercial lodges in the Timbavati would adversely affect the substantial support that the commercial lodges do give to the Timbavati Reserve; added revenue to support conservation and anti-poaching, as well as vital support to the local communities and their families. Less tourism in an area opens the door wider to more hunting, or in the worst case results in more poaching. This is the time that the travel industry should be galvanizing their support and sending more clients who bring valuable contributions through their conservation levies.
- 10. Together, the commercial lodges of the Timbavati are continuously driving to change the revenue streams which are available to the reserve. To make this possible we need the support and commitment from our trusted trade partners and guests. The commercial lodges are fully committed to making a significant improvement to the conservation contribution from photographic tourism, so taking pressure off other revenue streams and working towards a future where the reserve has a stable and sustainable income foundation.
Please also read the statement that was prepared by the Timbavati Reserve Management and this can be found by clicking on the following link : http://timbavati.co.za/timbavati-statement-recent-don-pinnock-article/