Leopard Mountain and Somkhanda Game Reserve
Nestled in the heart of Zululand, Somkhanda Game Reserve is a community project managed in partnership by the Gumbi Community, Wildlands Conservation Trust and African Insight. Successfully claiming 36,000 ha of land in 2005 through the land reform process, The Gumbi community decided to keep the majority of their land under conservation and create a consolidated game reserve that could be used as an economic engine to drive development in the community. In February 2011, this resulted in the first community owned game reserve to be formally proclaimed as a nature reserve.
In order to raise funds to help conserve the area, most game reserves will open a lodge in the hope to attract guests. Somkhanda community had a visit to Leopard Mountain Game Lodge to gain insight on running a successful game lodge as well as a successful reserve. The aim of the reserve is to preserve the integrity of the ecosystem in order to provide a secure environment for animal breeding. Management of Somkhanda Game Reserve was walked through our lodge with our Assistant Lodge Manager, Kate Lister to observe the many processes involved in running a game lodge. The group was also taken on a Game Drive by Manager and guide, Ivor Van Rooyen to get the feel of how a guided experience should feel. The aim of our involvement with Somkhanda is to show our support for the surrounding communities through empowerment and upliftment, as well as our commitment to the conservation of natural ecosystems for the preservation of indigenous species. The reserve has been promoted as a flagship project because of the preservation of both the Black and White Rhino populations, Leopard as well as Zebra, Giraffe and Nyala.
Leopard Mountain taught the new management team about the systems we have in place in order to run a successful business. To keep guests happy, staff at Leopard Mountain go out of their way to make a visit as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. Our involvement in the project is to help ensure the success of this community reserve and thus the natural resources and people in a common area who share a common interest, conservation. Our main role in the project is to answer any questions that community members would have concerning development in the community.