&Beyond has a formal agreement with the University of South Africa (UNISA). As part of this arrangement, we identify a sustainability need across our operations which is then collectively agreed and aligned with the UNISA Honours, Masters and PhD postgraduate programmes, allowing these students access to our operation to conduct their research projects.
This is a mutually beneficial relationship where research findings are shared with our business, and we provide the students with a robust platform for their research.
We also partner with other tertiary institutions, such as the University of Johannesburg and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, on specific projects as and when the opportunities arise.
In essence, applied research informs our conservation action. At &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve we have invested significantly in developing our research base, which has effectively guided our decisions in terms of wildlife management on the reserve.
Similarly, a baseline monitoring and research programme to guide decision making and measure change is a fundamental objective of our Oceans Without Borders initiative.
Research is also crucial to the protection and effective conservation of endangered land and marine species. To use the Phinda-African Pangolin Working Group (APWG) reintroduction project as a case in point, APWG Chairman, Prof. Ray Jansen, explains it like this:
The power of research lies in its clinical objectivity. It provides a touchstone of meticulous data on which decisions can be made, and provides a long-term perspective of the impact of these decisions.
First Community Conservation Course
In 2020, the research team hosted the first ever Phinda Community Conservation Course in collaboration with our community development partner, Africa Foundation. Five successful applicants from our neighbouring communities spent six months with the team learning land and wildlife management, and research and monitoring skills.