The Mbuluzi Game Reserve Community Development Fund
The Objectives of the Fund
To support orphans and vulnerable children in the Lubombo area by providing them with school fees/uniforms and supplemental food/other necessary items. The Fund’s mechanism for achieving this objective is to gather and distribute cash donations for these purposes. Mbuluzi may also donate in-kind items at our discretion. Fundraising will take the form of MGR budget allocations, voluntary shareholder donations, social networking donations, office-based tourist donations and website marketing. As and when possible, MGR will utilize existing entities through which to work; this will improve our success rate and create more accountability.
Beneficiaries of the fund
The fund has been set up to support members of the community around Mbuluzi Game Reserve, namely vulnerable/orphaned and other appropriate recipients. As well as the Maphiveni resident Point.
Management of the Fund
The Fund will be managed by a subcommittee composed of Mbuluzi shareholders, Mbuluzi staff and others if elected by MGR’s manager. The subcommittee will be responsible for approving all disbursements, and it meets twice a year to assess available funds and disbursements.
The finances of the fund sit on the balance sheet of the Mbuluzi Game Reserves financial statement that is audited independently annually. Recipients will report to MGR at least annually on the use of the Funds.
Lessons in Conservation (LiC)
In late 2018 a strategic partnership was formed between Mbuluzi and a registered NPC conservation education initiative called Lessons on Conservation (LiC).
LiC has identified our communities with youth that have the potential to be awakened. Their passionate team along with Mbuluzi staff and select Community Members then conducts their lessons in these communities.
- EDUCATE CHILDREN FROM UNDERPRIVILEGED COMMUNITIES
- CREATE A CONNECTION BETWEEN PEOPLE AND WILDLIFE
- FUND FGASA COURSES FOR IDENTIFIED OUTSTANDING STUDENTS
Learner Bursaries Program
The community development fund sponsors a number of students from the neighbouring Maphiveni community. Initially the fund started with only primary school learners but we have continued to support the learners who have moved onto high school. The learners who are sponsored are chosen by the fund committee through the local Family Harvest Church as they keep good records on learners from Maphiveni. The main criteria looked at when choosing new learners in the program are vulnerability and the level of likely hood to succeed.
The program has been hugely successful with many of the learners who would probably fallen out of studies not only continuing but excelling at school.
Mbuluzi Game Reserve Bicycle Donation Project
The project is an initiative by Mbuluzi Game Reserve whereby used bicycles are given to young learners in the Shewula community bordering Mbuluzi. The first shipment to be given out is around 450 bicycles.
Where do the Bicycles come from?
The donated bicycles come from Bicycles for Humanity Seattle, USA. Used bicycles are collected, packed and shipped to Durban by the group. The process was started by a relationship being built between Mbuluzi Game Reserve and the Rotary Club of Empangeni (Principally, Fulvio Pace) who have been involved in similar projects in South Africa.
Who gets the bicycles?
Mbuluzi is using the assistance of the Shewula Community Trust to identify a number of primary and high Schools with learners who have exceptionally long distances to travel to attend School. Those learners will be given a bicycle in exchange for a promise to look after the bicycle and to learn about the importance of conservation and the environment. The bicycles are hoped to be able to help young learners in Shewula who have long distances to walk to school every day. Some of the smallest bicycles are given to the care centre in Maphiveni for very young children to learn to ride a bicycle in turn help in their development.
Challenges of such a project?
Although the bicycles and shipping to Durban was donated it is still challenging getting the container brought into Swaziland and even offloading it from the truck takes some effort. There are also still some substantial costs to be covered for the project to work. Namely the VAT that is charged on both import and shipping costs.
Luckily the very generous help from our local community and company shareholders made it all possible.
The biggest challenge however has been putting all the bicycles together and servicing them so that they are usable. This has been done solely by two of our own staff members in their own time. Mandlenkosi Motsa the Admin Manager and Nkosingiphile Masilela a Game Ranger have put a huge amount of effort into this.
Developing young riders
It is also hoped that the project will help in developing promising young cyclists who will start to participate in the growing sport of cycling in the country.
School Visit Program
This is an initiative whereby each year the game reserve invites the grade 7 students from Jack Hersov Primary school with staff to come for a day visit to the game reserve. Many of the learners are from our neighbouring community settlement Maphiveni. The group of usually around 30 people is split into three groups and rotate through three activities.
Learners and school staff are taken on a bush walk with a ranger to look at and learn about the many interesting little things that can be seen in the bush on foot. As well as this they have the opportunity to learn a bit about the role of a ranger in the game reserve and the challenges we face on trying to protect the wildlife.
The learners and school staff are taken out on a game viewer for a drive to look at the larger animals and learn about them. Many of the students have never seen our wildlife first hand yet they live right on the border to the game reserve.
The learners and school staff are also given a talk and a slide show about ecology and the importance of conservation and the preservation of our wildlife. This is an interactive presentation where students ask and answer questions about the game reserve, our animals and also the relationship the game reserve has with their community.
Swazi 3 Reserves MTB Race
The last running of the Three Reserves cycle race was in September 2019-the 21st running of the event. Since then, much has changed as we come out of the pandemic the Three Reserves organizing committee has been deliberating how and if we continue with the race. The race had significant impact in this part of the Lowveld benefitting local communities and business and being an icon on the eSwatini mountain biking calendar. As such we would like to keep the event going as far as possible albeit with some changes. We believe the changes that we propose will not only match the cycling experience that cyclists have enjoyed in the past but will also ensure that the event continues for the next 10 years and beyond.
As such we are implementing the following changes to the Three Reserves race that you got to know and love:
1. Emphasis on ride enjoyment and getting out in nature: This year as we get up and running again, we will be keeping it simple and focus on the ride experience and enjoying the company of fellow like minded cyclist. As such we will not be doing any timing, have different categories and record race positions. We will have a marked course, water tables, marshals, safety(ambulance) and will have three distances 10km’s, 27Km’s, 45Km’s and 70Km’s, similar to what we had in the past. The focus this year will be on the ride thrills, not the race frills. For those that want to push it a bit more we will set up Strava segments for each distance. We may transition to a more traditional race format in future years but will evaluate as we go.
2. New organizing team: Lubombo Cycling Club will continue to be the race holders and will be responsible to ensure alignment and adherence to cycling eSwatini requirements. The race organizers however will be changing with Mbuluzi Game Reserve becoming the organizing entity. This organization will be done in close cooperation with the Lubombo Cycling Club. We believe that this will ensure the longevity of the event as committee members come and go while Mbuluzi Game Reserve will be here for the long term. Mbuluzi Game Reserve were also instrumental in organization of the race in the past.
3. Change of name, route and start/finish venue: All these changes go hand in hand. The Three Reserves race historically was extremely lucky and grateful to use three of the most scenic reserves in eSwatini during the event. However Hlane Game Reserve have introduced a number of dehorned black rhinos in the area that we ride through and as much as it would be a thrill to see such a magnificent animal on the ride we feel that the risk is too high and as such have had to exclude Hlane from the route. Going forward therefore the ride will take palace exclusively on Mlawula Nature Reserve and Mbuluzi Game Reserve. As such we will be calling the ride the Swazi Reserves MTB in future. This year we will be moving the start/finish venue to Siphiso camp in Mlawula. It has been wonderful to have the Simunye Club and Hlane as part of the event for the last 11 years and thanks go to them. We would still encourage to make use of these facilities as part of their ride experience.
Sponsorship opportunities: While we will be keeping the ride simple this year we will still have costs to cover and would really like to continue with the various community initiatives that were supported by the race in the past.