The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve is embarking on an initiative to increase conservation revenue through sustainable tourism.
This strategy was developed through a joint effort of the commercial operations within the Timbavati, as a means to provide the reserve with a more significant income from commercial tourism. This comes at a time when our wilderness areas are under greater threat than ever before, with exponential increases in security costs to combat wildlife crime.
Vegetation management is one of the most if not the most important aspect in wildlife management. In order to manage the Timbavati, reach our goals and set objectives, an extensive survey of the vegetation on the area was done. Formal sampling was performed at 60 sample sites on the reserve. Sampling consisted of the herbaceous and woody layer (tree layer), soils and geology. Sample analysis produced three main plant communities on the reserve, with the main determining factor being soil clay content and thus soil moisture retention ability. Variation within these communities does occur but related to management goals and objectives are negligible.
Fire management on the reserve is aimed at increasing the heterogeneity of the landscape as well as the rejuvenation of the grass sward. The Timbavati currently uses a fire regime known as the Patch mosaic fire regime. This fire regime simulates natural fire occurrence in that the fire is lit at predetermined points and left (with minimal interference) to burn. This type of fire naturally burns high biomass areas and dies out on areas that would not under natural circumstances have burnt.
The variation in fire intensity as well as the fact that the fire burnt some areas and others not, increases the potential of diversity in terms of species richness, rejuvenation rates of plants (both the herbaceous layer and woody layer) varies and this increases the heterogeneity of the fire scare area, and on a higher scale that of the total reserve.
The Timbavati is a large tract of natural bush which stretches 40 km from north to south and 24 km from east to west at the widest point.
Ensuring that the animal and plant species in such a vast area is protected from the ever increasing demand for natural products in the eastern countries, is a full time job, which demands high levels of training, dedication and commitment.
That is why Timbavati employ only strong, well trained and dedicated men who have to pass a stringent selection process. These men spend their lives patrolling and protecting our natural heritage.
Timbavati has in the past year increased the number of staff involved in this function and will further increase the number in the current year. These men are equipped with state of the art equipment and have been very successful in their fight against rhino poachers.