To commemorate this #ThrowbackThursday / #ThankfulThursday, we give our most heartfelt thanks to the countless guests who have shared #25YearsandBeyond with us and who, simply by travelling with us, have personally contributed towards the ongoing conservation of our planet.
&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 that we operate and, increasingly, are part of the reason why our guests find their travel experience with us so rewarding.
Over the last 25 years of pioneering this proven ecotourism model of responsible travel, here are the 25 conservation coups that our guests can be proud of:
&Beyond contributes to the protection of almost 4 million hectares (over 9 million acres) of land under wildlife conservation.
&Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve encompasses 23 000 hectares (56 800 acres) of re-established wilderness land. This once degraded farmland is now one of the world’s most renowned Big Five game reserves. Phinda is home to cheetah, elephant and lion populations of national significance and has the biggest private herd of nyala in the world. Phinda also houses a multitude of other species, some rare, others endangered, including all members of the Big Five.
&Beyond Ngala Private Game Reserve in the Kruger National Park 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 in 1990. In terms of the agreement, &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.
Leopard monitoring at &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve: between 2002 and 2012, 72 leopards were radio collared and satellite tracked, and their movements and interactions documented. The research findings have led to the reduction of leopard trophy hunting in the region, as well as to an increase in Phinda’s leopard population.
Rhinos Without Borders (RWB), the joint initiative between &Beyond and Great Plains Conservation, has safely translocated 25 endangered rhino from the poaching hotspots of South Africa to relative safe haven of Botswana. Read more on rhinoswithoutborders.com to see how you can get involved.
Over 500 teachers and 7 000 community children have been hosted on Conservation Lessons.
The Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife Black Rhino Range Expansion Project selected &Beyond Phinda as its first release site in 2004. Today, Phinda is renowned for its healthy population of both black and white rhino.
Protection and monitoring of green turtles on &Beyond Mnemba Island, one of only two protected nesting sites for the species in Zanzibar. Each year an average of 38 nests are laid on the island, with more than 100 hatchlings born per nest.
&Beyond negotiated the formation of the Mnemba Island Marine Conservation Area, which protects the waters around the island.
Relocation of over 250 suni antelope living on &Beyond Mnemba to Jozani Forest on Zanzibar Island, greatly enhancing the species’ status at Jozani. The remaining suni on Mnemba continue to prosper, breeding twice a year in some cases.
In 2005, five Aders’ duiker (the rarest antelope species in Africa) were introduced to &Beyond Mnemba Island; the population has since increased to 18. The Wildlife Conservation Society estimates there are only 300 to 600 Aders’ duiker remaining in the wild.
Every year, the &Beyond Mnemba Island team hosts marine conservation lessons for 80 school children from mainland Zanzibar.
Monitoring of endangered wattled crane and other threatened birds at &Beyond Sandibe and Nxabega in Botswana has helped guides to understand the population dynamics and ecological requirements of wetland-dependent species.
Elephant research and pioneering contraception helps to maintain sustainable elephant numbers at &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve without the need for culling.
Research of the symbiotic relationship between lion and hyena at &Beyond Grumeti Serengeti Tented Camp; a select group of animals were fitted with GPS collars that will be used to collect data on their movements and interaction.
In 1998, &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve donated 10 lions to the Mpumalanga Parks Board for relocation to Mthethomusha Game Reserve.
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 20-year local extinction of the species; one of these lionesses recently gave birth to the first cubs born in Rwanda in nearly two decades.
In 2011, &Beyond assisted with the groundbreaking mass translocation of 50 gaur (Indian wild cattle) to restore the species in India’s Bandhavgarh National Park. The herd, which continues to thrive, has now officially surpassed the 100 mark.
&Beyond’s conservation teams continue to protect and monitor the rhino populations in our reserves across East and Southern Africa on a daily basis.
Supported by an on-site conservation team for more than ten years, the careful preservation of the reefs surrounding &Beyond Vamizi Island 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.
&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).
A groundbreaking quarantine programme at &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve has turned the reserve into a major source of TB-free buffalo, with more than a thousand animals relocated to other reserves.
So little is known about the coconut crab (the world’s biggest land crab) that the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists their conservation status as ‘data deficient’. &Beyond Mnemba Island has a small yet stable population of these enormous crabs and recently hosted researchers from Sweden’s Gothenburg University in Sweden, who conducted a study of the coconut crabs on Mnemba and nearby Chumbe Island (the first study of its kind conducted in Africa).
Conservation has been a strong driver on &Beyond Vamizi Island even before its six luxury villas were opened, with a conservation team present on the island from 2005. Home to one of the world’s great marine archipelagos, this entire area is under threat. Along with the Vamizi conservation team, &Beyond uses our influence and expertise to protect it, focusing on reef conservation and creating safe migratory routes for the endangered species that travel this coastline, from turtles to humpback whales.
&Beyond Phinda was the first private game reserve to re-introduce adult elephants from Zimbabwe, ultimately re-establishing social normality for orphaned elephants.