Garonga’s Green Initiatives!

With the Climate Change Conference about to start and people focusing suddenly on The Environment, it seems apt to talk a bit about what we at Garonga do for this. Many Lodges do something more or less but all are very aware of the sensitivity of the Environment.

Now the most suitable people to be really dealing with SOP’s, systems etc to protect our natural resources are people who live in the countryside or the Bush; they better understand it as it directly affects their Business or way of life and more importantly see it as quite normal and commonsense. Politicians and Eco Warriors don’t, and do it for PR, and self-Importance.

1. Heat Pumps

  • All our Guest rooms at Safari Camp and Little Garonga have hot water supplied by these. I see they are very much now in the news overseas. Here they work splendidly and certainly cut the amount of energy being used. They are very effective.
  • At MCH Private Tented Camp we use Gas geysers which again are extremely effective and economical.
sustainable safari, eco tourism, green safari
A thermodynamic geyser at Safari Camp!

2. Water

  • We have established a water plant that cleans, softens and filters our water from the natural boreholes to the supply syste
    Fresh water from the boreholes, although totally delicious and natural, is very hard, and clogs the systems up very easily; hence the softener.
  • We also have a Water Filtration Plant separate to the plant above that is used to clean and filter “Grey/Used” water. This water is then pumped down back into the Waterholes in front of Safari Camp; thereby negating the use of fresh Borehole water which would be a huge waste. This water is perfectly drinkable by Animals.
  • We have our own Bottled water system supplied by “Vivreau” whereby we cycle our own filtered water (Via the water plant) into Glass Bottles; therefore no plastic.
  • Harvester Tanks are used to collect rain water that can be used for Irrigation, cleaning vehicles etc.

3. Solar

  • Safari Camp Front of House is totally solar; it covers about 30% of our energy needs.
  • MCH is totally solar and completely off-grid. This is backed up by a Generator should we get several overcast cold days.
  • Although Solar prices have reduced since we first installed in 2007 it is still a very expensive business. Unfortunately here in South Africa there is no incentive to use “Alternative Energy Sources”; at Safari Camp my main Electricity Bills have not changed at all even since using Solar as the main Camp is mixed between Solar and the Main Supplier, ESKOM.
    One day I hope to take Safari Camp off the grid, but currently this is far too expensive an exercise.

4. Waste

  • All our waste is separated.
  • We keep daily records of waste mass to see how we can improve and which departments are wasting unnecessarily.
    Again in SA , and especially here in the rural areas there is not a recycling plant whereby waste is put to good use.

5. Suppliers

  • We source our Food Supplies from the Local area to keep local businesses afloat and provide indirect employment to people outside the Reserve.

6. Firewood

  • This is carefully selected from dead trees fallen down and broken up.
  • Again it is done carefully that the wood is not regenerating and providing additional life sources.

7. Conservation

  • The reserve is constantly looking at ways of “Conserving Wildlife, Fauna, Flora”.
  • We run an Elephant Contraception Programme; it was set up in 2001 and is extremely effective in controlling Elephant Numbers without harming them at all. This is essential in a Private Game Reserve as you can only have a certain number of Ellies, otherwise they feel pressurized and break out on to surrounding Farms etc. This programme allows Ellies to still give birth once the “3 Years Cycle of Contraception” is over, which is extremely important as Ellies are such social animals.
  • Black and White Rhinos exist on the Reserve in a “Protected Environment” in that we of course have Anti-Poaching Teams operating 24/7, 365 days per year. This of course is an expensive operation with all the security apparatus that goes into this but we, as Owners, have decided , that Rhinos need to rebound again in large numbers and no longer fall under the “Extinct Species” which is where they were.
  • Wild Dogs, Cheetah, Pangolin are all prevalent on the Reserve and we source more numbers all the time as long as its sustainable.
    Every two years a Game Census/Count is held on the Reserve that will literally count how many head of Game of all species we have. This is essential to maintain an equilibrium or balance that we have enough of one animal to sustain another.
Buffalo, Safari, BIg fiveLion, Safari, Big Five
  • Conservation as you are all aware costs a huge amount of money which is why I stated at the beginning that “farmers, Bush People etc” who live amongst it are better at implementing Conservation and Environmental Practices than those sitting in plush offices in New York, London, Paris etc. We, as owners, are happy to put our hands in our pockets and “Do Something” rather than “Say Something” (Apparently HM The Queen UK) said exactly this. Farmers etc plant trees, shrubbery etc – same thing.

These are my own words and I don’t speak on behalf of the other owners; so if you want a rant, then rant at me.
Those who wish to contribute to this huge Conservation Effort in many shapes and sizes are more than welcome; it is on our website and goes directly into the Reserve Pot.

I hope that the Conference of course is a success, but is practical. Going to the extreme in a rush will not help, and will affect so many people’s lives in a bad way. A lot has already been achieved but we never hear about it; if only the Media shouted it out. However this is also done purposely by the “Shout the Loudest Brigade” of Eco-Warriors so it seems that nothing is being done; it is not the big bad West (Whom they hate) but further afield that cause the problem. Again if only Politics was kept out of it and a pragmatic, practical Body was set up, this would be far more effective than Politicians gassing on when it sounds right.

Enough; I hope this gives you enough details of what small businesses and many Safari Camps are doing for the Environment in one small part of the world.

Best Regards
Bernie