By Ngoni Shumba
JABULANI Safari’s setting in Shangani Sanctuary is instructive in a country that whose agricultural enterprise and wildlife conservation efforts are in perpetual conflict.
It is a perfect prototype of how both can thrive in the same space – a sanctuary of sanity.
Elsewhere, outside of the national parks and conservancies, wildlife has been poached and poisoned out of existence, while inside them conservation efforts tend to benefit wildlife at the expense of people.
This has been untenable. There has been need for a model that ensures that man’s activities and nature’s well-being find some balance.
Unlike a conservancy which focuses on the preservation of wildlife to the exclusion of man, the Shangani Sanctuary concept seeks to achieve equilibrium – where people and the natural environment coexist and mutually benefit from each other.
It may be symbolic that this sanctuary lies right in the very heart of Zimbabwe. And, led by landowners Joshua Malinga and Jim Ross Goddard, it offers hope that the country can have both its rich and diverse wildlife heritage and critical agriculture.
Boasting of over 40 native game and bird species from the elusive leopard to the mournful fish eagle Jabulani Safari offers much more than leisure on its 1380-hectares of indigenous woodland. It offers hope that humanity can enjoy the best of both worlds.
It’s not only an attractive eco-tourist destination but a learning hub.
“We seek to educate people on the fragility of our local environment, and we hope to do so by setting an example. We have taken the initiative and we are demonstrating that it is possible for agriculture to co-exist with nature,” Jabulani Safari official Admire Tickey said.
He said the farmers who agreed to be part of the initiative are also benefiting from enhanced security as beyond the perimeter fence there are also rangers who patrol the area securing their livestock from rampant livestock thefts.
“Those who resisted are now asking to be part of the sanctuary as they are now seeing the benefits,” Tickey said.
Seeing impalas springing about and around a herd of brahmans is magical. If this is replicated as much as possible where the animals are compatible then humanity would have turned a corner.
Experiencing this on one of the most beautiful stretches of savanna plain the country has to offer was just therapeutic.
He said they have been careful not to introduce any game with potential contagions that could affect livestock. “We don’t have buffaloes yet. Farmers don’t like them,” Tickey said.
With appropriate screening for diseases like foot and mouth these may be introduced to add to the giraffes, wildebeest, impalas, kudus, elands, sable and other antelopes that pack the wildlife conservancy.
Farmers, Tickey said, secure their livestock from the predators – which exclude lions, by penning their animals at night.
“We don’t have lions. It’s mostly plains game. We have leopards, brown hyenas and jackals,” he said.
Going deeper into the sanctuary past farm plots that form part of the sanctuary is where Jabulani Safari, the heartbeat of the initiative lies.
It is from here that visitors make their excursions into its pristine African savanna and its teeming wildlife.
“Interestingly almost all visitors would have run into several herds of different animals before they even get to our reception,” Tickey says with pride at their model. “The very lucky ones even report seeing leopards.”
Their bush jaunts can be either through game drives, hiking either by bicycles on horseback or on foot and just walking trails through the bush.
Those who might arrive at the safari late while being guaranteed seeing game as they drive in will not have to wait until morning to enjoy its wildlife as the lights at their upmarket rustic camp is a magnet to herds of ghostly wildebeest, zebra, eland, sable and impala.
Beyond the natural attractions they also offer team building training in spectacular environment with wild game roaming the plains.
Its accommodation facilities are exclusive, elegant and private. They are ideal for a romantic getaway or a comfortable family holiday.
A respectful distance away from the exclusive chalets, our wide, spacious dormitories are ideal for school excursions, conference getaways and corporate training camps.
Aptly named Jabulani – rejoice in isiNdebele this is a place to celebrate the success of humanity in achieving balance with nature.