The success of the collaborative APNR initiative has resulted in a vibrant and tight-knit community. As a conservation hub that relies predominantly on tourism from both the local and international sectors, the resulting community is as diverse as the wildlife it strives to conserve.
Various places of interest support the local Shangaan community, amongst which some of the best wildlife trackers on the planet reside. Proceeds from tourism allow for increased conservation efforts and work towards sustainability for innumerable families. From selling intricate hand-crafted versions of the Big 5 to being actively involved in anti-poaching efforts, the local community is bound together by an undeniable passion for conserving and sharing its heritage.
Local wildlife colleges and volunteer projects are an alluring prospect for international students of all ages, allowing for the sustaining of conservation efforts and a vibrant and eclectic community. Due to the rich tapestry of wildlife and consequent tourism, the community abounds with locals and foreigners alike from every walk of life.
A community follows the value and passions of its members and it is vitally important that communities bordering natural/reserve areas are knowledgeable of the environment, its associated difficulties and receive the guidance to develop into competent persons who can work constructively and collaboratively to improve their communities and society as a whole. The Bush Babies school program is an environmentally based education program aimed at developing a conservation philosophy and transition into a society that is protective of its natural heritage by providing the necessary skills to make informed decisions and take responsible actions. This program is proudly offered to 10 schools in local communities surrounding the Greater Kruger National Park.
The reserve is home to a novel and dedicated anti-poaching unit, the “Black Mambas.” This team complement is entirely female, and the local Shangaan ladies can often be seen patrolling the reserve with a fierce determination to defend wildlife from illegal hunting and poaching activity. In addition to removing snares, monitoring fences and communicating suspicious activity to relevant authorities, the Black Mambas work diligently and for up to three weeks at a time. This unique team of women boasts an impressive success rate too, with no rhino poaching incidents within their territories since inception.
Another notable conservation initiative on the reserve, is that of the APNR Southern Ground-Hornbill project. Managed by the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, this collaborative project aims to investigate utilization of habitat and other factors influencing breeding success in the Southern Ground-Hornbill, which is critically endangered. Kyle Middleton and Carrie Hickman are the head researchers for this ambitious project, and work in collaboration with several volunteers to build and monitor nesting sites. Kyle Middleton is currently working on a PhD dissertation, investigating the social structure of Hornbills and how individual group members contribute to defending territories. A strong emphasis is placed on reproductive rates, in an attempt to increase the population size. Carrie Hickman is assessing how the breeding success of Southern Ground-Hornbills is adversely affected by climate change and environmental impact.
At the forefront of conservation, the reserve boasts an impressive array of various conservation initiatives. In addition to forming part of the ambitious APNR project, the reserve is actively involved in anti-poaching efforts and other groundbreaking collaborations.