Our Sustainability Journey
With our roots deeply in Africa, &Beyond’s experience here spans more than two decades, with 25 years of conservation and community history to back us up.
Established in 1990, the company went by the name of Conservation Corporation Africa (CC Africa) before expanding our pioneering eco-tourism model into South Asia and changing our name to &Beyond. No matter what our name, our pioneering model of low-impact, high-yield wildlife tourism has remained true to our ethic of Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife, Care of the People.
The Birth of &Beyond
The company was born in 1990, during politically turbulent times in South Africa. Nelson Mandela had just been released from prison and civil strife was rampant in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, where the African National Congress (ANC) and Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) vied for power. But, in the midst of all this turmoil, an extraordinary idea was born.
&Beyond came to life thanks to a collaboration of keen conservationists with a good understanding of business, who believed strongly in a conservation model that they felt could make a difference. The company’s first name was ‘Conservation Corporation’, chosen to reflect the profitable and sustainable co-existence of conservation, communities and business.
The opening of &Beyond Phinda Mountain Lodge in 1991 marked the beginning of the company’s operations. &Beyond Ngala Private Game reserve welcomed its first guests shortly thereafter, in 1992, while &Beyond Phinda Forest Lodge opened a year later. The company then expanded into East Africa, with six new lodges.
The expansion was an exciting time and provided ample proof that the development of responsible tourism outside South Africa was possible. If the model could work in South Africa, it could be implemented in any place where the communities surrounding the reserves could benefit through conservation.
Breaking new ground in the Indian tourism industry, &Beyond then ventured into the lush jungles of the subcontinent in collaboration with Taj Hotels, Resorts and Places. Known as Taj Safaris, this partnership provided guests with the ultimate interpretive wildlife experience in India, based on &Beyond’s proven model of responsible tourism.
Today there are almost 2 000 people employed by &Beyond at 35 safari lodges and regional offices in four African countries, Bhutan, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Argentina and Chile. In 2000, &Beyond purchased a tour operating company and moved from just owning and managing properties to becoming one of the biggest inbound tour and travel operators in Africa. Instead of only booking lodge beds, &Beyond also specialises in tailormaking a guest’s holiday from start to finish and facilitates the entire guest experience. The company now tour operates throughout Africa, South America and South Asia, thus allowing us to expand our conservation reach.
A pioneering model
&Beyond’s pioneering model of low-impact, high-yield wildlife tourism was founded on the premise that conservation could be sustained through sound business principles, and through its core ethic of Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife, Care of the People. Without our guests, we simply cannot be successful in extending and sustaining green frontiers. Therefore, delighting guests to make a difference to the world beats strongly in the heart of each &Beyonder.
Among the very first companies to approach conservation in this way, to this day our conservation strategy is broadly based on the following objectives:
- To minimise environmental impacts and maximise sensitivity towards wildlife and habitats
- To facilitate partnerships with our neighbours, whether local communities, government or the private sector
- To provide actions for reducing threats to wildlife and ecosystems
- To provide a world-class interpretative experience for our guests
&Beyond operates according to a dynamic sustainability strategy spearheaded by our sustainability team, which has extensive experience in responsible tourism and conservation in Africa, India and further afield. Our lodge business comprises less than 800 beds, yet it has a positive impact on more than 9 million acres of wildlife land and sustains the conversion of more than 500 000 acres from livestock farming and hunting to photographic wildlife safaris.
Phinda Private Game Reserve - land selection
&Beyond was launched in 1990 with the purchase of 13 000 hectares of degraded farmland near the coast of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province. Named Phinda after the Zulu word for “the return”, today this protected area has grown to 23 000 hectares and is &Beyond’s flagship game reserve.
The land that was selected for this first game reserve consisted of cattle, pineapple, sisal and game farms. More importantly, it formed a link between the Mkuze Game Reserve and what was then known as the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park. Today, it neighbours the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, one of South Africa’s first World Heritage Sites, and the vision of dropping fences to preserve links between wildlife areas remains alive.
Equally significantly, &Beyond Phinda was the first Big Five private game reserve to be established in KwaZulu-Natal, demonstrating for the first time that dedicating land to wildlife had the potential to produce better returns than cattle farming in marginal rainfall areas.
Phinda’s name has turned out to be prophetic in more than one way, as not only was the wildlife returned to the land but a significant portion of the land has since been returned to its ancestral owners in a ground-breaking agreement between &Beyond and the Makhasa and Mnqobokazi communities.
Pioneers in conservation
As wildlife was reintroduced to &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, it became the testing ground for many of the concepts, ideas and future working models of the company, including a number of conservation firsts.
- Cheetah were reintroduced between 1992 and 1994, with 13 animals brought in from Namibia and two from South Africa. To date, more than 50 litters, totalling more than 150 cubs, have been born, with 53 animals relocated to other game reserves. Phinda is now home to South Africa’s fourth largest cheetah population, which is of national significance
- Elephant were brought in from Kruger National Park and have thrived to the extent that some have been translocated and an active management process has been put into place to ensure their numbers do not grow beyond what the reserve can sustain
- The reintroduction of lion began with 13 individuals between 1992 and 1993. Over the years they have flourished, with 70 animals translocated to other wildlife areas, and additional measures introduced to keep the population levels appropriate to the land size
- &Beyond was the first in South Africa to relocate an adult elephant herd to private ground
- We pioneered the safe reintroduction of both cheetah and lion on the same reserve
- We were the first to use sedation to socialise lions from different prides in acclimatisation pens prior to release
- The first quarantine station to remove tuberculosis from buffalo on private land prior to reintroduction was set up at &Beyond Phinda, leading to a new national protocol for buffalo on such land
- We pioneered elephant capture methodologies after an escape from &Beyond Phinda forced us to experiment with loading elephant without specialised equipment
- We were among the first to attempt both elephant and lion contraception trials to control population growth
- White rhino were the first species to be re-introduced in 1991. In the largest translocation of rhino in one day, 21 animals were moved to Phinda, where they have flourished to the extent that the African Rhino Specialist Group now considers it one of South Africa’s most important white rhino reserves. To date, 77 animals have been relocated and six were recently donated for translocation to Botswana.
- &Beyond Phinda was the first to receive black rhino in the historic black rhino range expansion project launched by the WWF and Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal
- In partnership with Indian conservation authorities, we carried out the first successful mass translocation of gaur in India, aimed at reversing a local extinction of the species in Bandhavgarh National Park
- &Beyond Phinda is a founding member of Project Rhino KwaZulu-Natal, which provides security measures to protect rhino on many private reserves
Care of the Land embraces our efficiency strategy, which aims to minimize the impact that our operations have on the environment.
&Beyond is the real deal in conservation, with a proven track record of reversing local extinctions and spearheading innovative research.
&Beyond works closely with the communities surrounding the wildlife areas where we operate.