White Elephant Safaris strives towards Fair-trade in Tourism by supporting various conservation initiatives, community projects, and social activities, in an effort to help improve our environment and the daily lives of our employees, surrounding communities and wildlife.
- Recycling: Regular refuse separation and removal – organic waste is used for compost to grow own herbs and vegetables; tags off tins are collected for a Wheelchair donation project; glass and cans removed to recycling plants. Recycled glasses are used in lodges; ‘Green Glass’ from cut bottles at Bush Camp, and melted glass blown in Swaziland (Ngwenya Glass) at Safari Lodge.
- Electricity: Low voltage/energy saver globes where possible; minimal use of high-energy appliances i.e. air-conditioners and heaters (instead warm water bottles in beds on cold nights); gas and paraffin lanterns instead of electrical lights for outdoors.
- We donate used linen and towels to the Ubombo children’s home; stationary, paper, magazines and books to local schools.
- We transport water to local community homes especially during drier months.
- White Elephant Soccer team: We support the soccer games against local clubs by providing our staff with time off for matches and transport for team & supporters.
- Community Projects: We endeavour to support local community projects such a Ilala weavers and KZNSA Gallery by purchasing beadwork for promotional gifts & curio shop sock.
- Ongoing in-house training and learning amongst our staff members is encouraged and funded. Staff are encouraged to share knowledge with each other and work towards becoming multi-skilled rather than developing skills only relevant to one particular position.
- The money collected from gate fees (occupancy at our lodges directly affects this income) are deposited into our Game Reserve Space for Elephants Foundation (SEF) Trust Fund, which in turn allocates this money to local community projects i.e. funding tourism courses, assisting local schools, etc.
- Space for Elephants was set up by WEL, and the eco-activity ‘elephanting’ implemented. 50% of the income generated from this activity by participating WEL guests is ‘donated’ to SEF (WEL retains 50% to cover costs of fuel, vehicle maintenance & staff).
- Dr Heinz and Mrs Debbie Kohrs, owners of WEL, are the Founding Trustees of Space for Elephants: www.space4elephants.org
- Procurement: Where positions allow for it, we recruit new staff primarily from one of our neighbouring communities. (i.e. Gumbi, Nyawo or Myeni communities). Project workers are also recruited from these neighbouring communities through consultation with local Ndunas/elders (‘Mpakhati’).
- Uplift neighbouring communities:
·Staff recruited from these communities i.e. Gumbi’s, are encouraged to live at home to promote a healthy family/home life. (Shifts are designed around these workers, they are transported to and from work and they are paid a housing allowance;
·HIV/Aids is prevalent in this area: A concerted effort is made to discuss and educate staff about HIV/Aids.
·Regular ‘runs’ are done to the local hospitals for staff to receive medication, counselling and medical care; We have a fixed arrangement with the local mobile clinic for monthly visits to the game reserve;
·Zululand Mission Air Transport (ZUMAT) – WEL supports this community charity service by selling air charters/scenic flights to our guests;
·Local hospital (Bethesda) and children’s home– WEL supports these by taking guests to visit these institutions as part of tour programmes. Guests are usually very touched emotionally and leave sizeable donations for these community services
·Clothing and toys are collected, cleaned and repaired by WEL staff + owners and distributed to the children in Bethesda hospital and the Ubombo children’s home over the festive season.
·Film crews / advertising companies that utilize our lodges and location are encouraged to recruit ‘film extras’ from the neighbouring communities for which community members receive payment. Suburban Films recently ‘shot’ the new Spoornet advert in and around our game reserve. WEL assisted with recruiting community members. The Film Co. was also prompted by WEL to make an R 5000 donation to the recently completed community school for the erection of water tanks and toilet facilities.
·Tourism Awareness (TA) programmes has been donated to local schools and through SEF we hope to continue this distribution of TA programmes.
·We have hosted training courses (i.e. National Tourism Leadership Project NCF level 2 learnership) in guiding (cultural) for local neighbouring community members. We also provide game drives, boat cruises and visits to the lodges to these learners.
·Eco-tourism talks to high school children on invitation and at National Wildlife, Conservation and Tourism Workshops in Gauteng.
·WE developed and maintain the SEF’s Research Centre.
·Promotion of community projects such as cultural villages for our guests.