A three way partnership between Husqvarna, Illovo Sugar and Tala Collection Private Game Reserve will ensure that rhinos and other wildlife benefit from an essential veld management and rehabilitation project that will also create much needed employment and skills training for the local community.
According to Tala Collection Private Game Reserve general manager, Mike Nunan, the collaboration means benefits for everyone.
“Husqvarna (which manufactures forest, agriculture and gardening power products) has sponsored a comprehensive range of professional equipment – brush cutters, chainsaws, clearing saws – for a work team to eliminate exotic and alien vegetation. This local labour, in turn, is sponsored thanks to a generous donation from Illovo. They are also doing some major rehabilitation, which is all making a huge difference to the animals’ environment.”
While removing alien plants is imperative, there is also a need to thin down over populated indigenous plants. “Within the reserve are areas with thick vegetation and masses of self-sown acacia. This creates a canopy where light can’t get in and grasses can’t grow, meaning browsers and grazers like rhino won’t graze there. With the help of the Husqvarna’s powerful equipment, the bush-clearing team is opening up these areas. When the rain comes and these parts are exposed to light, sunshine and animal droppings, the primary grasses will come back. This helps spread the animals out so they don’t all graze in one area and destroy it,” Nunan explained.
The 3000ha reserve, with no large predators, is very well stocked with a diversity of game, ranging from the tiny mongoose up to the biggest of all southern African antelope – the eland. It boasts about 20 species of antelope, including oribi, bushbuck and reedbuck. It is a mix of acacia thornveld, open grassland and sensitive wetland.
“We are extremely committed to the project, and are encouraged to see our diverse range of machines being put to use in such a meaningful project, with spin-off benefits for everyone – including the labour team from the local communities, who have been able to learn new skills using our equipment,” said marketing manager of Husqvarna, Jacqui Cochran
For Illovo, Africa’s biggest sugar producer, this is the second project with which they’ve been involved at Tala Collection Private Game Reserve.
Last year they helped have the resident rhinos tagged with GPS monitoring devices so their whereabouts could be tracked 24 hours a day. They also support the on-site anti-poaching team that patrols the reserve day and night. Illovo is funding the workforce needed to clear the area in a continued effort to protect these rhinos and create skills development for the local community.
“It’s important to keep the animals safe but just as important to ensure their habitat and environment is as it should be. We welcomed the opportunity to again be involved in this community and play our part in helping preserve the environment,” concluded Illovo marketing manager, Darrell de Wet.