By Kevin Coltrain and Kelleen Haddad, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

Phinda Game reserve is located in South Africa slightly south of Kruger National Park in a region called KwaZulu-Natal. Phinda Forest Reserve Lodge has 16-stilted glass chalets that were hand build by the local Zulu people to minimize the impact on the rare Sand Forest. Other amenities include a plunge pool overlooking open grassland; an outdoor wood Boma, a gift shop, as well as many services including all food and beverages. The adventures at the reserve include game drives, river cruises, scuba safaris, endangered wild cats projects, birding specialist safari, horse riding, cultural Zulu Village tour, and many more.

Phinda was established in 1990 with the purchase of 32,000 acres of degraded farmland. It was named Phinda after the Zulu word for “the return.” Phinda became the first Big Five private game reserve to be established in KwaZulu-Natal. They demonstrated that using land for wildlife produced better returns than cattle farming on the land especially in marginal rainfall areas. Now Phinda has grown to be 56,800 acres. They are regarded as an “against all odds” conservation success. They brought together a partnership between private enterprise with the neighboring communities of Makhasa and Mnqobokazi.  There are 7 ecosystems throughout the game reserve: palmveld and grass-savannah, sand forest, mountain bush, dense thornveld, mixed-bushveld, and open-woodlands. The typical temperatures rang from ~95 degrees F during the summer, and down to 18 degrees F in the winters.

Phina focuses on three major values:

Focus on care of the land

·      They care for the land by embracing their efficiency strategy, which aims to minimize their physical footprint and impact of their operations on the environment

Focus on care of the wildlife

·      They care for the wildlife by investing in a conservation strategy to preserve the endangered species through conservation, translocations, and breeding programs.

Focus on care of the people

·      They care for the people by looking out for the local communities and partnering with Africa Foundation. Their motto is “taking less and giving more.”