Looking back on three meaningful decades of lasting, positive impact on our planet’s land, wildlife and people, it all comes down to our guests, without whom the last 30 years would not have been possible. Simply by travelling with us, each and every &Beyond guest has personally contributed towards the ongoing conservation of the earth’s most iconic destinations and their inhabitants.
&Beyond was formed in 1991 with the goal of successfully demonstrating that a financially sound, wildlife-based tourism operator could in fact make a significant contribution to conservation and biodiversity, whilst also promoting sustainable community development. By true definition, responsible travel not only positively impacts the land and its wildlife, but also the people who live in and around these wildlife areas.
From our greater conservation model right down to the minutest details of the daily activities that take place in our lodges, every decision made revolves around our core ethos of Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife, and Care of the People. These intrinsic values have become an intuitive part of the way in which we operate and, increasingly, are part of the reason why our guests find their travel experience with us so rewarding.
A lot can happen in 30 years…
Our 30th Anniversary Impact Review tells it all. The challenges, victories and learnings that have shaped the perfect runway for our bold Vision 2030.
Over the last 30 years of pioneering this now-proven ecotourism model of responsible travel, these are just 30 of the countless conservation coups that our guests can be proud to have enabled through their own responsible holiday choices.
1. Conservation custodians
&Beyond currently contributes to the protection of 3.6 million hectares (over 9 million acres) of land under wildlife conservation and 3,000 km (1,864 miles) of African coastline.
3. Our pride grows again
Ngala Private Game Reserve was the second private game reserve to be acquired by &Beyond in 1992 and the first private reserve to be incorporated into the Kruger National Park.
It was the first three-way partnership between a private organisation (&Beyond), the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) SA and the state-run South African National Parks Trust (SANParks Trust).
&Beyond leases the Ngala land and, in return, pays a portion of its turnover to the SANParks Trust for use in expanding the national parks network. These funds were directly responsible for the establishment of South Africa’s West Coast National Park.
Ngala (which is the local Shangaan word for lion) is home to the Big Five, endangered African wild dogs, as well as two of the world’s only three documented white lions living in the wild.
Ngala is home to two of the world’s only three naturally-occurring white lions living in the wild…
This video briefly explains why white lions are so rare, and the challenging odds facing these cubs…
6. Hope for rhinos
In an effort to counter the rapidly declining black rhino numbers, the Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife Black Rhino Range Expansion Project selected &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve as its first release site in 2004.
Today, Phinda is renowned for its healthy populations of both black and white rhino that are protected 24/7 by our anti-poaching units. Between 2004 and 2020, a total of 269 of Phinda’s rhino have been notched by our conservation team for research and monitoring purposes.
For the birds
The ongoing monitoring of the endangered wattled crane and other threatened birds in Botswana’s Okavango Delta has helped our guides to understand the population dynamics and ecological requirements of wetland-dependent species.
Research into the symbiotic relationship between lion and hyena was conducted at &Beyond Grumeti Serengeti River Lodge. A select group of animals were fitted with GPS collars that are used to collect data on their movements and interactions.
Strong and buff
A groundbreaking quarantine programme on &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve turned the reserve into a major source of TB-free buffalo, with more than a thousand healthy animals relocated to other reserves.
11. Safe refuge
The Wildlife Conservation Society estimates there are only 300 to 600 Aders’ duiker (the rarest antelope species in Africa) remaining in the wild.
To help give this species a fighting chance, five Aders’ duiker were introduced to &Beyond Mnemba Island back in 2005 and the population has continued to grow steadily ever since.
12. A healthy balance
More than 250 suni antelope living on &Beyond Mnemba have been successfully translocated to 13 sites throughout Zanzibar Island, including Jozani Forest.
The remaining suni on Mnemba continue to thrive, breeding twice a year in some cases. These breeding populations of both Aders’ duiker and suni are continually being monitored to ensure that their gene pools remain strong and that the carrying capacity of the island is not exceeded.
13. Bringing new species to light
We are truly proud to have been directly involved in the discovery of three new species on two of our reserves.
In 2006, (then) resident astronomer Miles Paul discovered a tiny and rare little gecko at &Beyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge in the Namib Desert. Professor Bill Branch, renowned reptile taxonomist and Curator of Herpetology at Bayworld in Nelson Mandela Bay, was called in to assist. Five years later, Professor Branch officially published our &Beyond namesake, the Pachydactylus etultra (‘et’ meaning ‘and’; ‘ultra’ meaning ‘beyond’) in the Harvard journal. (Images courtesy of Miles Paul and Bill Branch).
In 2016, &Beyond Private Guide, Daryl Dell, was the first to discover another new species that would later be officially identified as the Phinda rain frog (Breviceps carruthersi).
Three years later, Barbara Wright of Wild Tomorrow Fund discovered yet another new species deep in Phinda’s critically endangered Sand Forest: the Phinda button spider (Latrodectus umbukwane). This new species is believed to be the world’s largest widow spider and the ninth widow spider recorded on the African continent.
Images courtesy of Bill Branch, Daryl Dell and Barbara Wright.
14. Land returned
Not only was the wildlife returned to Phinda’s land, but a significant portion of this protected land was returned to its ancestral owners in a groundbreaking partnership in 2007 between &Beyond and the neighbouring Makhasa and Mnqobokazi communities.
In a pioneering move for land distribution in South Africa, &Beyond and the leaders of these two communities signed a mutually-beneficial deal resulting in the restoration of 9,085 hectares (22,460 acres) of wilderness land within Phinda to its original owners.
Rather than returning this land to farming, the communities extended &Beyond a 72-year lease on the property, with an agreement that we would continue the operation of Phinda’s lodges while paying an annually-escalating rental to the communities.
This significant land claim settlement has also proved that, when communities surrounding conservation areas experience the benefits of responsible tourism (in this case as landlords), they support the conservation and biodiversity of reserves for the benefit of future generations.
In 2009, two additional pieces of land were handed back to the two communities resulting from separate claims on farmland in the area. They requested that this additional land be included in &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, as they believed that their best financial return would be gained through the use of the land for conservation tourism. &Beyond secured a 36-year lease on these properties.
16. Legacy ripple
Following the above-mentioned inaugural reintroduction of 50 gaur to Bandhavgarh National Park, a remarkable legacy ripple of translocations within India’s Madhya Pradesh region was set in motion.
Protecting our heritage
&Beyond Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge participates in a programme to combat an invasive alien weed, salvinia molesta, which is threatening the marine life and diversity of the Okavango Delta (a UNESCO World Heritage Site).
Diving Neptune’s Arm
Supported by an on-site conservation team for more than 15 years, the careful preservation of the reefs surrounding &Beyond Vamizi Island in Mozambique has led to one of the dive sites accessed from the island, Neptune’s Arm, being recognised as one of the top scuba sites in the world.
Building species data
&Beyond Mnemba Island in Zanzibar is home to a small, yet stable population of coconut crabs (the world’s biggest land crab). So little is known about these enormous crabs that the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists their conservation status as ‘data deficient’.
Researchers from Sweden’s Gothenburg University travelled to Mnemba (and nearby Chumbe Island) to research these crabs (this was the first study of its kind conducted in Africa).
20. Partnering for conservation
In a joint collaboration between &Beyond and Great Plains Conservation in 2014, our Rhinos Without Borders initiative set out to translocate 100 endangered rhino from the poaching hotspots of South Africa to relative safety in Botswana’s wilderness areas.
87 rhino were safely translocated in 2019, including an additional 6 that were previously donated by &Beyond Phinda in 2013. This new source population of 93 translocated rhino has since grown to well over the targeted amount, with the birth of more than 50 calves – a true testament to the success of this project of hope.
In view of recent poaching in Botswana, the full resources and collaborative infrastructure of Rhinos Without Borders now remain focused on the ongoing safety and protection of this source population.
21. The lion’s share
In 2015, &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve donated five lionesses to Rwanda’s Akagera National Park (as part of an African Parks project) which helped to successfully reverse a 15-year local extinction of the species.
One of these lionesses gave birth to the first cubs born in Rwanda in nearly two decades. In fact, according to Akagera park officials, the population more than doubled in the first year with the birth of 11 cubs.
A groundbreaking collaboration helps restore a 15-year local extinction of lions in Rwanda…
Follow the lions’ journey from South Africa all the way to Rwanda’s Akagera National Park…
25. Education by land…
In the past three years, more than 16,000 conservation lessons have been given by our guides to children in the local communities that surround our lodges and reserves.
Tomorrow’s natural resources will stand a better chance of survival if today’s children are inspired to conserve precious wilderness areas and their wild inhabitants.
26. … and by ocean
These crucial conservation lessons extend beyond our wilderness areas and into the oceans too.
In the same three years, more than 2,700 marine conservation lessons have been given by our dive experts to children and teachers in the local communities that neighbour our island properties in Zanzibar and Mozambique.
28. A numbers game that works
Elephant research and pioneering contraception continues to help maintain sustainable elephant numbers on &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve without the need for culling.
30. Shifting sands
The vast and achingly beautiful landscape that makes up &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve consists of seven distinct habitats that we affectionately refer to as Phinda’s ‘seven worlds of wonder’. One of these seven unique ecosystems is the rare and critically endangered Sand Forest.
Of the world’s last remaining 2,000 hectares (4,942 acres) of sand forest, Phinda is home to a fiercely protected 790 hectares (1,952 acres) of this threatened and diminishing habitat.
SEE WHAT LIES BEYOND
Join us for a once in a lifetime journey that will help leave our world a better place.