&Beyond subscribes to strict land management techniques to ensure that the wildlife areas that we influence remain sustainable. Below we highlight a few of our most significant focus areas at &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve.
Preserving the Sand Forest
Phinda is home to rare sand forest, which is home to important endemic plant species, as well as some of South Africa’s rarest animals. Of the remaining 2 000 hectares of sand forest that is being protected in the world, Phinda is home to 520 hectares. In order to limit damage to this precious area from elephants, an elephant exclusion fence was erected around the largest section of sand forest on the reserve in 2005. One of the first of its kind, other reserves are now utilising the same method to protect vegetation types that are at risk. In addition, a long-term study into the effects of nyala and elephant on sand forest species is currently taking place. Researchers are also exploring the role of beetles and the possibility of using dung beetles as an indicator of the health of the sand forest.
Research and Monitoring
The amount of research conducted at Phinda has allowed it to make a significant contribution to scientific and wildlife seminars, conferences and workshops. The reserve has a full-time team of four, as well as research students from several universities, actively collecting and coordinating ecological data. Data on lion, leopard, cheetah, elephant, black and white rhino, hyena and birds of prey is collected daily.
Assessments are regularly conducted on soil, grasses, woody vegetation, carrying capacity, stocking rates and threatened plants and habitats. Fire is the main tool in veld management and these assessments are used to determine the burning regime. Using scientific analysis of the veld and following the management processes derived from these methodologies has allowed the reserve to increase grazing capacity by 30%.
Invasive Alien Plant Removal
Invasive alien plant species pose the biggest threat to the carrying capacity and biodiversity of game reserves throughout South Africa. Thanks to its land management policy, Phinda is a leader in contributing to the removal and clearance of invasive alien plants in KwaZulu-Natal.
Conservation of Threatened Plants
Phinda is home to a number of endangered plant species, including some highly sought-after medicinal plants. Thanks to meticulously implemented management plans, these species are not only surviving but thriving on the reserve.
Phinda has implemented a strict off-road driving policy to reduce the impacts of this practice on soil and vegetation. Thanks to this, we have been able to influence industry standards and acceptable practices of off-road driving.