Conserving a vanishing way of life on safari

Nestled at the confluence of the Mitomeni and Biyamiti rivers in the south-western corner of the Kruger National Park, Jock Safari Lodge offers 6 000 hectares of exclusive traversing rights in an area of the park for Big Five game viewing. (Images: The PR Team)

• Vaughanine Johnson
Communication Manager
The PR Team
+27 21 419 2390/1

Melissa Jane Cook

A space classically decorated, old editions of Sir James Percy FitzPatrick’s famous novel, Jock of the Bushveld, on display atop magnificent, antique wooden writing desks, Jock Safari Lodge (JSL) is a luxurious piece of beauty. It encapsulates a bygone era of adventure, and stands firm in the belief that the wild is pure and must remain untamed.

At JSL sustainability is woven into the fabric of the community and caring for and nurturing of the earth informs how the staff and community teach, learn, and operate. It is one of the properties in the Shamwari Group portfolio. Committed to the environment, the luxury safari group is constantly engaged in far-reaching campaigns with the ideals of going green. Fresh crusades are continually under way. The group strives to minimise the impact of its lodges on the environment at every opportunity, and it has instituted many renewable and ecologically conscious methods of operating.

See the beauty of Jock Safari Lodge:

Bush Bubble

Nestled at the confluence of the Mitomeni and Biyamiti rivers in the south-western corner of the Kruger National Park, JSL offers 6 000 hectares of exclusive traversing rights in an area of the park for Big Five game viewing.

General manager Louis Strauss oversees the lodge with passion for and a deep understanding of the African bushveld. He believes that environmental sustainability has become an essential ingredient to doing business responsibly and successfully. Strauss says the space was the first concession in the Kruger and nestled in the wild, you are immersed in a bush bubble. There are no new footprints; the captivating lodge has a mature history. The old wagon road travelled by FitzPatrick and Jock runs through the JSL concession and the Jock rangers regularly use this road to tell the guests about the dog.

Environmentally conscious

Strauss is a staunch supporter of green initiatives and sustainability programmes, such as reducing the use of physical resources including water and energy, encouraging recycling, increasing the use of renewable resources, encouraging the redesign of production processes and products to eliminate the production of toxic materials, and protecting and restoring natural habitats and environments valued for their biodiversity or beauty.

With him at the helm, JSL regularly achieves impressively high results in the Kruger National Park environmental audit. In 2013, its result was 100%. The bi-annual audit measures the impact of the lodge, kitchen waste, and recycling tin and glass. “Furthering our eco-initiatives by making a concerted effort to educate and motivate staff on the need to reduce, recycle and reuse, we have reduced the amount of energy, water and waste on the reserve tremendously,” he explains.

The lodge is completely off the grid and is totally self-sufficient; it relies on no municipality. Solar geysers and evaporative coolers have been installed to reduce electricity use. There is grey water recycling, which is reticulated into the dam for animals. Water consumption is monitored very closely and the lodge has implemented rain water collection for use in its extensive herb garden. Recycled waste water is used for washing vehicles.

Cans, glass and plastic are recycled as a daily routine, and all kitchen food waste is processed through a wormery. JSL only buys wood from a local contractor sourced from re-usable alien trees for its camp fires. Solar power for heating has been installed at the main Jock Safari Lodge and Little Jock for geysers in all the suites and back of house.

For intrepid bush ramblers and big game watchers, the lodge allows its guides to drive off-road on the concession; afterwards, they go back to rehabilitate the area. “Keeping it pure is our ideal; we bind to the philosophy of the park… Throughout the lodges, there is comprehensive staff training, greater conservation awareness, especially for the rhinos, and looking at every opportunity to adopt even more eco policies,” Strauss says.

Each initiative is executed with care and the responsibility of nurturing resources is taken seriously to ensure the protection of the environment and wildlife.

The lodge is completely off the grid and totally self-sufficient; it relies on no municipal services. Solar geysers and evaporative coolers have been installed to reduce electricity use.

Empowering the community

JSL is also involved in empowerment initiatives in the surrounding local communities. Malelane is the closest village to the lodge, where unemployment at 70%. JSL uses as many members of the community as possible for its staffing, and 90% of employees is sourced locally, from the construction workers on the property to the taxi drivers ferrying the staff to and from work.

The lodge has also funded a soap-making factory, Kumshulshla. A very productive, lucrative initiative that staff really get their teeth into is biscuit making. Various staff members were bought ovens and appliances and they have started a little bakery where biscuits, shaped like dog bones in keeping with the Jock theme, are made. These creamy, delicious biscuits are placed in the rooms and are best eaten dipped in honey. Florence, one of the bakers, earns about R5 000 to R6 000 a year and it was even suggested that they are sold in the curio shop.

Handmade crafts from the surrounding communities are also stocked in the JSL curio shop.

Man’s best friend

The theme of FitzPatrick’s famous novel is on display throughout the lodge. The décor is in keeping with this intrepid explorer and his incredibly loved dog. The story is of canine devotion and has moved many adventurous hearts that travelled through what is now known as the Kruger National Park in the late 1800s. At the safari lodge there are ox wagons from the original Jock of the Bushveld movie.

Listen to Johnny Clegg sing ‘Great Heart’ for the Jock of the Bushveld movie: