The Kalahari covers over 900,000 square kilometres of Southern Africa. Defined by its unique
semi-desert vegetation and ubiquitous red sand, the region was previously a haven for wild animals,
but the fencing and grazing imposed by generations of farming have restricted their movement and gradually
lead to their decline. The challenge now is to return this remarkable landscape to its natural state.
That is the mission of Tswalu; a vast private game reserve in the southern Kalahari.
The reserve, formed by consolidating 43 ecologically degraded cattle and sheep farms, is dedicated to regeneration
by removing fences, reviving biodiversity, and restoring this fragile ecosystem. As one might imagine, it’s a complex task.
By enabling such coveted access to South Africa’s largest independently protected area, Tswalu Kalahari Reserve has created a sustainable way to support its conservation initiative. But managing luxury tourism in such a remote location gives you plenty to think about.
Staff accommodation, availability of talent, procuring local ingredients, community welfare, energy and water supply, and the cost of fuel are just a handful of considerations that affect Tswalu’s operational efficiency. Not to mention research projects, rainfall, and the many other factors that feed directly into conservation work. Tswalu must constantly balance the running of a luxury venue alongside ever-changing ecological variables to determine the right way forward. Factors related to culture, climate, community, and commerce all need to be considered within the context of conservation; a careful balancing act that calls for astute management, teamwork, and a consolidated holistic approach.
The arid savanna of the Kalahari
The root cellar at Klein Jan restaurant
Tswalu’s first Sustainability Officer, Prince Ngomane
Weeva’s platform is designed to make operational efficiency and resilience more accessible and achievable. This is why Sustainability Officer, Prince Ngomane, relies on Weeva. By measuring, assessing and initiating changes when required, Prince is able to chart a course that assuredly takes Tswalu to where it wants to be.
Prince’s role is to work with data from every corner of operations to form a complete picture of its business. By capturing all of the information from the various departments into Weeva’s sustainability management platform, he works with an accurate real-time account that allows Tswalu to determine its own fate, to define its own space, rather than merely pay lip service to what sustainable tourism should be.
It’s a subtle difference, but by constantly improving through the application of data, Tswalu can remain true to its vision while making well-informed decisions for the future. Seeing this in action is a big part of the appeal for both staff and guests, who understand that decisions are based on verifiable fact in the interests of a bigger plan.
“We need buy-in from our guests. We need to share this journey with them and everyone in this enormous ecosystem. And we need to keep learning and improving as we go.”
A story is great. A true story is even better…
It’s one thing announcing to the world that you have the best of intentions. But at some stage, you need to back up your promise with actions that are verifiable.
With Weeva, Tswalu is not only signalling a commitment to itself and its guests or to conservation and eco-tourism. Tswalu is reinforcing its ideals with transparency, consistency, and scientific fact. Which is yet another regeneration story to get excited about.
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