Husqvarna and Illovo Sugar have linked up with Tala Collection Private Game Reserve to ensure its rhinos and other wildlife are safe and happy and have the right environment in which to thrive. The venture, an essential veld management and rehabilitation project, has also created much-needed employment and skills training.
“The collaboration means benefits for everyone,” said Tala Collection Private Game Reserve general manager Mike Nunan. “Husqvarna has sponsored a comprehensive range of professional equipment – brushcutters, chainsaws, clearing saws, etc – for a work team to eliminate exotic and alien vegetation. This local labour, in turn, is sponsored thanks to a generous donation from Illovo. They are also doing some major rehabilitation, which is all making a huge difference to the animals’ environment.”
While removing alien plants is imperative, there is also a need to thin down over populated indigenous plants. “Within the reserve are areas with thick vegetation and masses of self-sown acacia. This creates a canopy so light can’t get in, and grasses can’t grow, meaning browsers and grazers, like rhino for instance, won’t graze there. So with the help of the Husqvarna’s powerful equipment, the bush-clearing team is opening up these areas to the environment: when the rain comes, and these parts are exposed to light, sunshine and animals droppings, the primary grasses will come back. This helps spread the animals out so they don’t all graze in one area and destroy it.”
The 3000ha reserve, with no large predators, is very well stocked with a diversity of game, ranging from the tiny mongoose up to the biggest of all southern African antelope – the eland. It boasts about 20 species of antelope, including oribi, bushbuck and reedbuck, with general game in abundance. It is a mix of acacia thornveld, open grassland and sensitive wetland.
Husqvarna Group has established itself as a global frontrunner in the manufacture of forest, agriculture and gardening power products, said marketing manager Jacqui Cochran. “We are extremely committed to the project, and are encouraged to see our diverse range of machines being put to use in such a meaningful project, with spin-off benefits for everyone - including the labour team from the local communities, who have been able to learn new skills using our equipment.”
For Illovo, Africa’s biggest sugar producer, this is the second project with which they’ve been involved at Tala Collection Private Game Reserve. Last year they helped have the resident rhinos tagged with GPS monitoring devices so their whereabouts could be tracked 24 hours a day. They also support the on-site anti-poaching team who patrol the reserve day and night. Now the sugar company has come to the rescue again, donating funds for the workforce needed to clear the area in a continued effort to protect these rhinos and create skills development for the local community.
Said Darrell de Wet, Illovo marketing manager: “It’s important to keep the animals safe, but just as important to ensure their habitat and environment is as it should be. We welcomed the opportunity to again be involved in this community and play our part in helping preserve the environment.”
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