As the Covid-19 restrictions on movement and activities are gradually eased, the Somkhanda Community Game Reserve is turning its attention to re-opening its hospitality facilities and resuming its training activities. The preparation includes Somkhanda collaborating with Bhejane Nature Training in a three-year partnership to empower young people in the northern KZN community.  Formally proclaimed through the land reform process in 2005, the WILDLANDS-managed reserve has flown the flag for community-owned reserves in South Africa, largely through development and capacity building of the Gumbi community. The partnership with Bhejane, an accredited FGASA (Field Guides Association of Southern Africa) training provider, will see several members from surrounding communities being trained as nature and trail guides. Their training  will cover the full spectrum of NQF2 and NQF4 qualifications and is made possible through funding to the value of R1 million.
Somkhanda manager Meiring Prinsloo said the initiative addresses several imperatives of the community game reserve. “Through empowering these youth, we will strengthen the reserve as one that can compete on an equal footing with the surrounding reserves as well as equip our future conservation guides with the knowledge to propel them forward in this conservation environment,” Prinsloo said.

Sihle Mathe of the Somkhanda Community Game Reserve (left) and a trainee on a recce mission. Pic by Chris Laurentz