How we give back

We are firm believers in Marshall McLuhan’s theory of the ‘global village’. Giant technological strides have created a substantial link between us all, the wealthy, the poor and everyone in between. We also believe that even more than the warm fuzzy feeling of ‘giving back’ (which we all enjoy) there is a tremendous need to create a visible link between conservation and community benefit.

Our Local Community

Over the years we have striven to support, and engage the local community in business. This has been a slow process with improvement in recent years as we have developed a better understanding of the environment through communication and experience.  It has taken some failures and some successes to realise that that there is much more needed than handouts or brief training and that it takes time to develop relationships and trust, as well as to understand the needs and motivation of the communities.  It is for this reason that our more recent projects have proved more successful.

Current and past projects include:

Staff Transport

Rhino Walking Safaris (RWS) provided, Mr Noel Ndlovu, with a vehicle to start a transport business, and supported that business from 2005 until 2011 when he elected to keep the vehicle to start a transport business outside of the park. We spent R14 000.00 on having the vehicle serviced prior to handing it over to Mr Ndlovu, and provided him with a cash payment of R10 000 to boost his new business.

RWS then contracted JR Transport – a local community transport business to provide staff transport. This contract lasted approximately 2 years.

Ziyande Transport, owned by Mr David Mayindi, provided transport for RWS staff from March 2011 until April 2016.

In April 2016 Mkhuhlu Taxi Association (MTA) led by Jerry Nyathi of JR Transport took over a portion of this transport.

These transport projects see the community benefitting with payments of R43500 per month.

Magazines for Schools

This is an ongoing project.  We subscribe to the following magazines in bulk, to put into our guest rooms:

  • Getaway
  • Go Magazine
  • Wildside
  • Country Living

When new issues arrive, old ones are removed from the rooms and stored. These magazines are periodically parcelled up and sent to nine local schools to use for their school projects and as teaching aids.  These schools are nominated by our staff living within the communities.

Thatching, gravel and canvas stitching

Thatching jobs, supply of gravel, and canvas stitching are all sourced from the local community.

Due to the presence of baboons and monkeys in the area, thatching is an ongoing requirement for Rhino Post Safari Lodge.  RWS purchases the materials and then looks for thatchers in the local community to quote on each job.  RWS provides materials and transport.

Guest transfers

At the end of August 2015 we contracted Mr Brilliant Sambo to provide guest transfers between the Skukuza airport and Rhino Post Safari Lodge. The service has gone well, and our expenditure with him averages between R15 000 and R30 000 per month.  It has definitely relieved the pressure on us to provide these transfers, guests are happy to pay for them, and Brilliant has a growing business.

Loans to staff

In order to keep our employees from dealing with unethical money lenders charging exorbitant interest rates, we provide our staff with interest free loans of up to one times their monthly salary, which can be paid back – interest free – over a period of three months. This is frequently used – with loans issued in the region of R120 000.00 per annum.  Staff make use of this to bridge their finance when they have family crises, and also to assist them with building.

From inception in 2008 to date only one staff member has absconded with their loan, and this service continues.


In 2005 we started purchasing firewood from Masizah & Mjikiza. Prices were very high, quality inconsistent and delivery unreliable.

In 2013 we changed suppliers to Raymond Ndlovu, but pricing remained an issue.

In 2014 we once again changed suppliers and are currently getting our firewood from Nkateko Mkhabela (trading as Dennis’ Firewood).

Expenditure in winter is approximately R9000 per month.

Where communities are aware of the benefits of conservation to them and their future generations, they too are inspired to protect and preserve these precious and often threatened areas. It is both our duty and pleasure to work with our neighbouring communities, ensuring that they profit and advance from the proceeds of conservation, our lodges and our guests’ choice of destination. 

SK3 Sewing Project

K3, a division of eMasoyi Community Development Foundation (previously Masoyi Home Based Care Project) is run by the incredibly enthusiastic and hard-working Florence Mbokazi. Based in the area outside Numbi Gate, this project was started in response to the AIDS pandemic. Initially, the project provided home care, and later after-school care to victims of HIV/Aids and the numerous children who have been orphaned or made vulnerable because of HIV/Aids within their families.

The Khayalethu’3 (SK3) skills Development Centre was established to reduce the level of poverty and contribute to economic empowerment while developing vocational skills amongst the youth. These include Marimba lessons, beadwork, carpentry, computer lessons and sewing.

Two ladies from the SK3 project in the local community were identified in 2012 with the assistance of Portia Mnisi from SANParks to make uniforms for RWS. The samples were not up to standard.  RWS paid for their sewing machines to be repaired and serviced, purchased them proper dressmaking equipment e.g. scissors, measuring tapes, quick unpicks etc.  and paid for them to each attend a full sewing course over a period of 8 weeks in Nelspruit.  New and much improved samples were provided, but not yet at an acceptable standard.

Rhino Post Safari Lodge subsequently paid for a second sewing course using the specific pattern used for our ladies uniform shirts.

RWS purchased an overlocker for the ladies and paid for overlocker lessons.

The quality of their sewing is now of an acceptable standard, and we have purchased material, cotton, buttons, patterns etc. for them to sew our ladies’ uniform shirts for the next financial year.

RWS arranged for Jonathan Khoza from Thulamahashe to provide assistance with adjusting patterns, and additional training for another 4 ladies. Once they have successfully completed this task, we intend to provide them with further training expanding their skills to include skirt making by next year.  It is our intention to eventually have them sewing all of our uniforms, and to assist them in passing these skills on to other members of the community, and in marketing to other lodges and businesses so that they can develop a profitable business.

The shirts are now complete and going for embroidery – we will wear them with pride!

The ladies from K3 also have a small shop where they sell their products. Since getting involved with SK3 we have seen a marked improvement in sewing skills, and they have just finished making our uniform shirts for Rhino Post Safari Lodge and Plains Camp. We now intend to extend their skills to include making uniform skirts, and then men’s shirts and men’s trousers. We are hoping that eventually, they will be able to make all of our uniforms, earning them much needed income to keep their facility going. They will also be able to pass these skills on to the learners who come to them for aftercare. We intend to eventually introduce them to other lodges so that they can extend their market.

Andlane Soap Project

At the time of meeting with Elizabeth Andlane, who had started a small community project, Andlane Beauty World, they were producing floor polish and cleaning materials and their recorded monthly income was R65; they were running at a major loss.

Rhino Post Safari Lodge was not able to purchase the cleaning materials as we use strictly environmentally friendly products but suggested that they add environmentally friendly guest soaps to their range of products and together with the management of Jock Safari Lodge taught them to make soaps, with Rhino Walking Safaris providing equipment, ingredients and basic bookkeeping training. This quickly increased their turnover and put them in a position to service their bank loans and provide Rhino Post Safari Lodge and other lodges with their lovely handmade Rooibos Tea and Honey glycerine soaps.

At a concessionaires meeting RWS suggested to SANParks, when discussing a SANParks/Concession project, that the focus be moved from supplying curios to supplying consumables in order to ensure regular purchases. It was agreed that soap would be the ideal product.

RWS bought moulds, glycerine bars for Andlane Beauty World in KaMahlushwa facilitate soap production.

RWS provided basic bookkeeping instruction as well as stationery, and arranged with Mr Piet van Wyk of SANParks for the soaps to be collected and stored by the transport department. RWS placed and received their first order of 200 soaps in May 2014.

We have since been purchasing all of our glycerine soaps from them and joined forces with Resources Africa to send one of the ladies, Ms. Bongani Windvoel on a basic business training course.

We assisted Resource Africa in applying for a grant from SAB Miller on behalf of Andlane. This grant, of R210 000, was approved at the beginning of 2015, and orders for equipment placed.

There has since been no further contact from the equipment supplier, who after taking a down payment of R150 000 appears to have absconded. We have advised SAB Miller to take legal action.

SAB Miller has indicated that they are willing to replace the grant.

SPA Therapies

In July 2014 RWS drew up an agreement with Dineo Molefe (T/A Dee’s Spa) to provide Spa services in the rooms at Rhino Post Safari Lodge. RWS provided complimentary transport for her masseuses, and has purchased all the necessary equipment.

The service proved popular with guests and payments to Dee’s Spa ranged between R2500 and R4000 per month in the quiet months, and approximately R7000 in the busier months. The full billing for the massages went Dee’s Spa, with the lodge not taking any commission.

In 2015 Dineo Molefe cancelled the contract as she felt that the amount of business was not sufficient to make it viable.

Our housekeeper Thandi showed an interest in learning to do massages, so we sent her on a massage course, and she continues the service, earning a commission per treatment.

It is our intention to train other staff members making them multi-skilled, and giving them additional opportunities to increase their earnings.

Training Courses / Resource Africa

Resource Africa together with the Wildlife College presented an opportunity at the concessionaires meeting for concessions to put forward names of local suppliers / projects for a basic business training course at the Wildlife College sponsored by the Job’s Fund.

RWS nominated one person each from:

  • Zayinde Transport
  • Raymond Ndlovu’s Bakery / wood supply
  • The SK3 Sewing Project
  • The Soap Project (Andlane Beauty World)

All of these people were accepted onto the course (receiving a R2000 per month stipend for the duration of the course and a computer donated to their business), and Resource Africa continue to mentor Andlane Beauty World, and have arranged via SEDA to have do their SABS and ISO certification.

RWS remains in close contact with Resource Africa to follow up on the above, as well as to introduce them to the Distribution Project in the hope that they may be able to assist with this.

We have outsourced our guest transport between Skukuza Airport and Rhino Post Safari Lodge to Brilliant Sambo, his contract with us giving him surety to buy another vehicle. We have also provided additional grants to help him grow his business and keep his vehicle in tip-top condition. Our guests love him, and so do we.


Education is close to our hearts and Seolo Africa has over the years provided an annual prize for the Sumbandila Scholarship Fund to assist in raising funds for underprivileged children to receive top secondary and tertiary education and experience the Grahamstown Arts’ Festival. In 2018 we upped the ante by donating a 7 night holiday at Rhino Post Safari Lodge, Plains Camp and Chundu Island as well as 2 nights at Masuwe Lodge courtesy of our preferred partner Landela Lodges.

We also support the Skukuza Primary School with annual prizes to assist their governing body in keeping the school fees reasonable for the children of SANParks’ employees, and provided a grant of R18 200 to the Skukuza Creche. In so doing we are striving to make it easier for local community members to be able to go to work and educate their children. We believe that it is vital for the local communities to feel the tangible benefits of the lodges and conservation in their areas, not only for themselves but so that they too will assist in preserving these sensitive areas for generations to come.

You can make a difference too

Guests travelling to South Africa who would like to find out how they might be able to make a difference are welcome to email our Regional Operations Manager, Nikki Meyer, on

Travellers sometimes worry about making sure their donations reach the right place or worry that their contribution will be ‘too small’. Needs change from time to time, and no donation is too small. A toothbrush, tube of toothpaste, soap, deodorant, pencil, crayons or books as well as second-hand clothing that is in good condition are always welcome. It doesn’t take a fortune to make a difference in the lives of those who have nothing.

We do not accept cash donations on behalf of any of our projects, but in the case of anyone wishing to make such a donation, will put them directly in touch with the community members responsible for heading up these projects.