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AAmidst these unsettling times, the very best of South Africa's flora, fauna and human nature are undoubtedly shining through. We've highlighted some of the stories spreading positivity across the Rainbow Nation, including initiatives and projects that have been put in place to help support local communities, as well as an exciting new species that has miraculously been discovered, measuring in at a minuscule size - the equivalent of a grain of rice. 

SSpringboks are using their Rugby World Cup Score to raise money for communities in need

South Africa’s 2019 winning Rugby World Cup team has launched a campaign called #StrongerTogether to help communities impacted by the coronavirus. As part of the campaign, The Springboks are selling 100,000 raffle tickets at £1.50 / R32.12 (32-12 being the score that won them the Rugby World Cup), to pay for food parcels and soup kitchens. Those who buy the raffle tickets will have the chance to win an array of prizes donated by the Springbok rugby players, including a Rugby World Cup jersey, dinner with the Springbok coach and a personal Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour – a total of 44 prizes. For more details, visit www.sarugby.co.za

 

South Africa experiences a wildlife baby boom during lockdown

As the UK lockdown continues, many couples are finding themselves closer than ever, and predictions are rife for an influx of new-borns in 9 months’ time. However, it seems it is not just humans who are ramping up the romance, South Africa’s wildlife has been feeling the love with a baby boom of its own. Samara Private Game Reserve has seen a big cat baby boom in recent months, while hippo calves been spotted frolicking in the waters at Amakhala Game Reserve. Gondwana Private Game Reserve has welcomed the birth of a baby giraffe, and most recently and undoubtedly the most exciting for rangers and conservationists, a pack of 10 highly-endangered wild dog puppies have been spotted at Tintswalo Safari Lodge located in Manyeleti Game Reserve, within Kruger National Park

JJuma Art Tours launches campaign to support locals with food parcels

Juma Mkwela, founder of social enterprise Juma Art Tours, an initiative that connects the vulnerable of Capetonians with tourists through art, cycling and gardening, has launched a scheme to provide food for those in need in Cape Town’s townships. Amid the Coronavirus global pandemic, the mission of Juma Art Tours – creating a positive and sustainable change in Cape Town through tours and community projects – is at a standstill. Yet Juma’s vision of connecting people across socio-economic, cultural, and racial backgrounds remains unchanged. Juma has been engaged in local relief efforts, gathering, and distributing basic food provisions such as flour, rice, maize, cooking oil, soap, vegetables, sugar, and water to the most vulnerable of families throughout Cape Town. To hear more about Juma, head over to our Youtube channel or visit www.jumaarttours.co.za

 

Lepogo Lodges’ Noka Camp launches new carbon offsetting programme to benefit local conservation projects

Outstanding Lepogo Lodges’ Noka Camp, one of Africa’s not-for-profit high-end safari lodges, has been working with local and global charity organisations to offset their guests’ carbon footprint. As a result, the lodge has been calculating the carbon emissions resulting from each guest’s journey. The end figure is then converted into a monetary value, and donated by Lepogo Lodges into one of three conservation projects, chosen by the guest. The three projects include The Community Stove Project – an outreach programme where high efficiency stoves are donated to the local community and as a result positively impact the health of families in need, the South Africa Forest Trust – a Biodiversity Enhancement Programme which brings together landowners, institutions, companies and individuals to plant indigenous forest ecosystems and finally Stand for Trees – a global programme which aims the protect the world’s most spectacular forest landscapes surrounding communities and wildlife. Find out more about the innovative five-star lodge experience at www.lepogolodges.com

BBoschendal in South Africa redistributes all produce and livestock to local community and education projects

One of South Africa's leading wine estates, Boschendal, has teamed up with neighbours to provide food packages and education for communities in need during the COVID-19 crisis. Over lockdown and the coming weeks, Boschendal has been redirecting all of its fresh produce and livestock to local child development centres, high schools, and underprivileged communities. The team at Boschendal seeks to drive awareness of the disease and education surrounding the spread through a series of pop ups across the communities. The pop-ups will offer running water, soap and sanitation for those in need, and will be assisted by trained local youth to answer questions people may have and share factual information. 

VVirgin Limited Edition offers virus-related education and waterless hand sanitizer to vulnerable communities

Together with Virgin Group’s charity arm, Virgin Unite and its own respective charities, Virgin Limited Edition continues to support some of the most vulnerable communities in South Africa. As part of its response efforts to the pandemic, Virgin Limited Edition has been supporting the local communities of Franschhoek, by providing food and masks to volunteers and Police Services. Virgin Limited Edition’s ‘Pride ‘n Purpose’ charity arm of Ulusaba Private Game Reserve has also pulled together a community support group which is distributing waterless hand sanitizer and providing virus-related education for vulnerable groups including the elderly, disabled learners, orphanages, school children and their teachers and families. 

TThanda Safari commits to “Star for Like” project

Thanda Safari lodge, located in KwaZulu-Natal, has a sincere commitment to the Zulu culture and conservation. As part of its conservation initiative, Thanda Safari lodge has been involved with conservation and wildlife research, which uplifts communities through the Star for Life project. The Star for Life project is non-profit organisation, and its mission is to teach and support young people through various wellness, art & culture and skills programmes. The programme also extends into more than 100 schools. 

 

Creseldah Education Fund raises funds to provide a tertiary education to young women

Founded in 2010, Creseldah Educational Foundation is a non-profit organisation founded by Creseldah Ndlovu, with the aim to eradicate poverty, provide educational support and assist schools with resources. The Creseldah Education Fund also gives starter packs to students going to university for the first time. The starter pack includes toiletries, a kettle, an iron, and all other necessary items including washable sanitary towels as many young women were missing lectures as they could not afford sanitary products. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Creseldah has turned her hand to making bright and colourful facemasks and delivering to those most in need. To get involved, visit www.ceffoundation.co.za

TThornybush Game Reserve launches Family Food Parcel project

Thornybush Game Reserve, located in Kruger National Park, together with Nourish Eco Village have initiated a Family Food Parcel project, in the hope of alleviating some financial stress for community members and their families. The aim of the initiative is to raise enough funds to assist 326 families affected by the crisis.  Each parcel has been created to include vital necessities, such as hand sewn facemasks, toilet paper, soap, and fresh produce from local famers. For more information, visit www.thornybush.com/thornybush-community/

NNew pygmy seahorse discovered, the first of its kind in Africa

Researchers have found a new species in the waters off eastern South Africa: a pygmy seahorse about the size of a grain of rice. The finding was a shock to researchers, as all seven species of pygmy seahorse (except for one in Japan) inhabit a biodiverse region called the Coral Triangle in the southwestern Pacific, 5,000 miles away. The discovery is the first time the species has been found in continent of Africa and entire Indian Ocean. “It's like finding a kangaroo in Norway,” says Richard Smith, a marine biologist based in the United Kingdom and co-author of a new study on the species, known as the African or Sodwana Bay pygmy seahorse. The new species appears similar to other pygmy seahorses, except that it has one set of spines on its back that have sharp, incisor-like points on the tips. The surprising discovery, described in a study published in May, demonstrates just how little we know about the ocean, particularly when it comes to tiny creatures, and that there are likely many more pygmy seahorse species to be discovered!

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