Conservation & Community at Benguerra Island
At &Beyond, we believe that the land, people and wildlife of Africa are inextricably intertwined.
Just as wildlife conservation and ecotourism are vital for the continent’s future and the prosperity of its people, it is equally critical to support those people to protect Africa’s threatened ecosystems, endangered species and the precious biodiversity of its wildlife areas. Sustainability at &Beyond is all about creating a company that can show meaningful and lasting benefits for the natural environments and communities that surround our operations. At every one of our lodges we seek out small (and sometimes not so small) but meaningful ways of putting our values into action every day.
&Beyond’s core ethos of Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife, and Care of the People has become an intuitive part of the way that we operate and has allowed us to positively influence more than 9 million acres of protected wildlife land. With the recent expansion of our island portfolio, the plight of the world’s marine resources and sensitive habitats has broadened the reach of our wildlife conservation initiatives to include the protection and sustainability of our seas with Oceans Without Borders – a call to preserving our marine eco-systems.
Oceans Without Borders
Building on the incredible influence we have on protected wildlife land, &Beyond is expanding its focus on wildlife conservation to include the preservation and sustainability of our seas with Oceans Without Borders. Each of our three islands; &Beyond Benguerra, Mnemba and Vamizi, are situated within protected marine areas and boast a strong conservation focus, all with dedicated projects as well as shared initiatives. At &Beyond Benguerra Island, the highlighted Oceans Without Borders project is conserving the habitat of the endangered dugong by working in conjunction with Africa Foundation and the island’s local community.
Hunted by humans for thousands of years, the endangered dugong is a rare marine mammal related to the manatee. The protected waters surrounding &Beyond Benguerra Island have become a haven for this semi-nomadic animal, which means the conservation of this sensitive habitat has become one of the critical projects for &Beyond’s Ocean Without Borders initiative.
Fishing nets and community fishing have been identified as the single greatest threat to the dugong. Working in conjunction with Africa Foundation (&Beyond’s community development partner) and the island’s local community, the Benguerra conservation team have embarked on a strategy to establish alternative food sources and livelihoods to reduce the community’s dependency on the ocean’s resources. Vegetable gardens have already been planted to solve some of these issues, and the teams are actively researching alternative protein sources for the island’s inhabitants.
Community multi purpose centre
With approximately 1 500 inhabitants scattered over the island of Benguerra, the community has identified their most urgent need as a multi-purpose centre (MPC) that would serve as a focal point to bring the villagers together. Working with our community development partner, the Africa Foundation, &Beyond has taken up this challenge and hope to proceed with construction by mid-2015. As a result, the community of Benguerra will have a place where they are able to draw together and make shared decisions that affect the future of their island. The MPS will also function as a centre for health education and will become a place of shelter where all villagers can take refuge in times of bad weather.
Fresh Water Wells
Access to fresh water is an issue on the island, with the current wells located relatively far from the main village. &Beyond is exploring ways to relocate these wells closer to the community, thus cutting down on the time and effort required for them to access fresh water.
Food For Work Project
Benguerra is a small island, with limited opportunities for formal employment. In order to support community members who have little means of income &Beyond Benguerra Island has set up a barter system. Local villagers are paid for carrying out maintenance work on the road between the lodge and the airstrip with basic food supplies such as cooking oil, rice and sugar.