Bees and People Together – South Africa

Bees and People Together – South Africa

The hum of bees is the voice of the garden.

[Elizabeth Lawrence]

May 20 is World Bee Day, a day to pay homage to these tiny little miracles of nature that not only pollinate our flowers but are largely responsible for our crops and food. If there were no bees there would be no more pollination, plants, animals or man.

World Bee Day reminds us of that and acknowledges the critical role bees play in our ecosystem.

It is estimated that a third of the food we consume relies predominantly on pollination by bees … but our tiny heroes are under threat.  Across the world there has been a growing concern about the decline in the bee population, mainly due to intensive farming, loss of habitat, improper use of pesticides and climate change.

The theme for World Bee Day 2021 is ‘Bee Engaged’. Let’s take a moment to learn a little bit more about bees and our new ‘Adopt-a-Hive project.

 

Let it bee

The team at Community Conservation Fund Africa (CCFA) has been hard at work to help prevent the colony collapse of bees and, in 2019, relocated and introduced 120 new bee hives onto three Mantis properties in the Eastern Cape: Hopewell Conservation Estate, Founders Lodge and Intle Boutique Hotel.  With an average of 50 000 to 75 000 bees per hive, this has created a habitat for around 9 million bees.  And, in addition it’s given bees a new base from which to buzz, dance, pollinate and produce honey and save the world. The project has also created much needed employment.

CCFA is extending its bee project to the Western Cape by installing 70 beehives at two sites: The Honey House on Willowdale Farm in Stanford and on Hazendal – a Mantis property located in Paarl.

Be part of the solution

Most of the world’s food crops – like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds – that form an integral part of our everyday diet, depend on bees and other pollinators to exist​.  The adopt-a-hive project, in collaboration with Honeybee Heroes, offers you a simple, hands-off way to help honeybees and nature’s pollination process.  ​

Adopt-a-Hive

For an investment of £100 (R2 000) you can adopt a honeybee hive and, in return, besides being a bee hero, you receive:

  • A personalised plaque on your beehive (this can either be for yourself, a partner, business or a gift for someone special)
  • An official adoption certificate
  • Hive progress updates
  • A Beekeeping Experience  (*T&Cs apply)

The honey produced will be stocked and sold at Mantis properties, with the profits reinvested into the development of more hives.

The buzz about bees

Not all bees are the same. There are an astonishing 2 755 bee species in sub-Saharan Africa and about a third of these are in South Africa.  Here are 10 fascinating facts about bees:

  • To produce 1.6kg of honey it takes 556 worker bees and 2 million flowers
  • The average honeybee makes only one twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime and visits 50 to 100 flowers during a collection trip
  • A honeybee can fly, up to 9km at an average speed of 25km/hour
  • A colony consists of worker bees, drones and one queen. Worker bees are female, they live for about six weeks and do all the work. The male honey bees (drones) do no work, all they do is mate
  • The queen bee lives for about 2 -3 years, she is at her busiest in summer when she lays 2 500 eggs per day
  • Honey bees communicate with each other by ‘dancing’
  • The bees’ buzz is the sound made by their wings which beat 200 times per second
  • The honey bee is the only insect that produces food eaten by man
  • Honeybees never sleep
  • Honey is incredibly healthy and includes enzymes, vitamins and minerals. It’s the only food that contains “pinocembrin”, an antioxidant associated with improved brain functioning.

Did you know?

  • Bees can see a colour imperceptible to humans and known as ‘bee’s purple’. It is a combination of yellow and UV light

Looking ahead

Building on the initial bee relocation and bee-keeping project in the Eastern Cape and the setting up of these beehives in the Western Cape, CCFA aims to continue creating small micro-businesses. The goal is to set up 1 000 micro-apiaries all over South Africa, donating hives, bee-suits and basic tools to rural South Africans in need, in order for them to start up their own businesses.

Once installed, the hives and bees belong to the community and the honey produced will be sold back to CCFA to sell through Mantis properties and local businesses. This will provide jobs and income for the local community.

In addition, as part of its immersive environmental activities for guests, CCFA and Mantis will be adding a Beekeeping Experience to its tourist offering. This includes a three-hour edutainment session with a hive tour and lunch at Willowdale Farm (*T&Cs apply).

‘Bee Engaged’, join us in the fight to protect our hard working little bees who contribute to complex, interconnected ecosystems that allow a diverse number of different species to co-exist. After all, bees keep the world sweet.

If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.
[Albert Einstein]

To adopt-a-beehive, donate to the project or learn more about environmental projects, contact the CCFA.

Website: https://www.ccfa.africa/beekeeping/

Facebook: https://web.facebook.com/ccfa.africa/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ccfa_africa/

 

(*T&Cs: the Beehive Experience excludes transport to/from Willowdale Farm in Stanford and is for a minimum of four people.)

Community Borehole Project – Namibia

Community Borehole Project – Namibia

Water for the community – Borehole construction

Borehole project: Kasika Conservancy, Zambezi region, Namibia

 

CCFA is pleased to have supported this community conservation initiative to provide safe and convenient access to water as well as assisting communities in their efforts to grow crops for subsistence farming (with a focus on fish and mielies), to feed their families and perhaps in the future create a living that extends further than the grant system.

After the successful completion of the first borehole in November 2020 in the Maliyazwa Village, CCFA wishes to provide further communities with four more much-needed boreholes. The additional boreholes will be piped to at least 8 strategically positioned outlets in order to allow for even distribution within the community, serving at least 400 people. The nearest river is a great distance away from the community and the presence of wild animals such as hippo and crocodiles in the river and on the river banks, makes collecting water there a life threatening task. Many community members have already lost their lives over trying to access this water source.

First borehole construction completed, November 2020

Mr Libuku’s village (Maliyazwa) is home to a community of approximately 40 people, who are now able to access water safely, thanks to the recent construction of a borehole in their village. This is a pure luxury for the community who had previously resorted to descending 10 metres into a collapsed water well to collect water to fulfil  their basic needs for survival. Standing on the collapsed edges of the well to access water was a life threatening feat in that there were no reinforcements surrounding the structure. The water table had dropped due to drought conditions, hence the need to descend at least 10 metres below ground level.

The recent borehole construction at Libuku Village has provided the many elderly people, as well as those in poor health living there, with easier access to water. The act of collecting water from a well and walking far distances to a water source, was not available to these physically challenged community members. Now, water points are located closer to the homestead and the borehole has been fitted with a sediment filter (a bidden wrapped around the intake pipe) to keep larger debris out of the water.

Jamanda Community Conservancy – Zimbabwe

Jamanda Community Conservancy – Zimbabwe

JAMANDA COMMUNITY CONSERVANCY PROJECT

The Jamanda Community Conservancy (JCC) in Zimbabwe is a project focused around facilitating the co-existence of rural communities and wildlife, to further support the existing CAMPFIRE program (Communal Areas Management Program for Indigenous Resources).

CAMPFIRE was established in response to clashes between a tribal community that was moved off its land in 1966 to make way for wildlife reserves, Ghonarezhou National Park and the Department of National Parks. This community is today known as the Mahenye community and is situated just outside Ghonarezhou. It is regarded as Zimbabwe’s finest example of a CAMPFIRE program.

The most recent expansion of the project has been by the Mahenye community who have set aside 7,000 hectares of land to establish the JCC. The JCC shares a 12km boundary with Gonarezhou Park allowing wildlife free movement. A 25km game fence funded by the EU minimises the risk of human-wildlife conflict. A headquarters, workshop, reception office and three ranger bases are under construction and should be completed by the end of the year.

The challenge for this community conservation initiative is for them to become self-sufficient in meeting their operational costs and in contributing to the improvement of livelihoods of the community at large. To this end the Jamanda Steering Committee has identified an income-generating project through the development of a low key non-consumptive tourist camp. The economic viability of this camp will determine the success or failure of the entire project.

The CCFA proudly funded the construction of a 12-bed self-catering camp within the Jamanda Conservancy, on the Save River, which overlooks the Gonarezhou National Park. The camp will offer guests a cultural visit to the villages, game activities and game drives into the GRZ Park.

The final phase of the project is to secure sufficient funding to meet the cost of game capture and translocation of wildlife from private conservancies, in order to fast-track product development by providing a competitive wildlife experience. The focus will be on plains game, as species such as elephant and predators will naturally move in from the GRZ Park.

Human Elephant Coexistence – Namibia

Human Elephant Coexistence – Namibia

ELEPHANT CONSERVATION AND HUMAN ELEPHANT CONFLICT MITIGATION PROGRAMME

CCFA is pleased to have supported an initiative that is creating harmony between communities and wildlife in the Kunene region of Namibia.

Ombonde People’s Park, located in the Kunene region, is home to desert-adapted elephant, black rhino, giraffe, lion and cheetah – all vulnerable or threatened in Africa.  The Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation’s (IRDNC) Elephant conservation and human-elephant mitigation programme, aims to prevent poaching in the area, while enhancing and building on community ownership of wildlife and natural resources. This is an authentic partnership between community conservancies and the government.

Drought is a constant threat that affects basic living standards and survival. It creates social strains such as unemployment, hunger and an increase in human-wildlife conflict scenarios. Many predators have moved closer to the homesteads, preying on livestock and destroying gardens because they are struggling to source water and food in their own habitats. Similarly, some farmers are encroaching on core wildlife zones in search of better grazing opportunities for their livestock.

There are currently 674 conservancy members working towards the common goal to live peacefully alongside wildlife by employing sustainable livelihood practices.

Various meetings held between January 2018 and August 2019, facilitated by the IRDNC team members, focused on plans to introduce a community garden and erect a solar-powered electric fence to protect it from elephants and other wildlife.

Funding for the project was approved after we received a project outline and application at the 2018 Conservation Lab. It is a project that is aligned with our overarching ethos: Working with local communities to preserve conservation.

CCFA previously donated U$25 000 toward the cost of erecting an electric fence around the community’s food garden which is about 140 625 m² (14 hectares). In addition to the fence, we also secured a commitment from the local council to provide water to the conservancy, to ensure the farming project is sustainable and improves the lives of the community.

The electric fence is comprised of 3 live strands and 2 earth wires. The energiser is a powerful unit, with 8 Joules stored energy – strong enough to deter elephants. It includes a solar PV panel and cover and operates independently of any grid.

The easy to assemble and maintain system, was installed by the community and overseen by the IRDNC Human Wildlife Support team. The community was tasked to nominate a ‘tech savvy’ community member to be trained on how to install the fence and operate the ‘fence tester’ apparatus to allow for fuss-free maintenance.  There will be community ownership regarding the upkeep of the property.

 

Although this practical intervention – the installation of an electric fence – has addressed one of the major problems faced by the community, ongoing strategic interaction between the IRDNC and surrounding communities will continue in the form of:

  • Continuing to identify community concerns around the encroaching elephant population, in order to formulate effective actions towards a more peaceful co-existence.
  • Creating and maintaining awareness about the negative impact of elephant poaching as well as the economic and environmental benefits of cohabiting peacefully with the elephants
  • Monitoring of elephant populations and their movements
  • Gathering data around elephant conflict and determining the cost of any damage to properties and farming livestock to find creative solutions to mitigate these situations
  • Incentivising communities by adding value through tourism, offering training that will enable them to find jobs in the wildlife tourism industry.

 

Latest Update

Great strides have been made in the Kunene Region of Namibia to help create harmonious living conditions between the 674 Ongongo conservancy members – living within the Ombonde People’s Park – and neighbouring wildlife.

The problem

Drought remains the main environmental problem experienced by the Ongongo conservancy. It impacts basic survival and living standards, creates social strains such as unemployment and hunger and increases human-wildlife conflict scenarios. Many predators have moved closer to the homesteads because they are struggling to source water and food in their own habitats and, similarly, some farmers are encroaching on core wildlife zones in search of better grazing opportunities for their livestock.

 

 

The easy to assemble and maintain fence was installed by the 20-strong team, overseen by the IRDNC Human Wildlife Support team.

Designed to deter the elephants, the fence comprises 3 live strands and 2 earth wires.  The energizer is a powerful unit with 8 joules stored energy and comes with a solar PV panel and cover and operates independently of any grid.

The solution

This particular project focused on assisting the community, especially the women, by erecting an electric fence around the community garden to deter elephants – and other animals – from ruining their crops.

 

 

Transferring of skills

The community were educated about the hazards of the ‘live’ fence and how to avoid contact with electricity. Two community members have been trained to monitor and guard the fence while another two are now competent to offer technical support and fence maintenance.

Next steps

Although this practical intervention has addressed one of the major problems faced by the community, ongoing strategic interaction between the IRDNC and surrounding communities will continue in the form of:

  • Identifying community concerns around the encroaching elephant population to help formulate effective actions that will allow a peaceful co-existence
  • Creating and maintaining awareness about the negative impact of elephant poaching as well as the economic and environmental benefits of cohabiting peacefully with the elephants
  • Monitoring the elephant populations and their movements
  • Gathering data around elephant conflict to determine the cost of any damage to properties and farming livestock to find creative solutions to mitigate these situations
  • Incentivising communities by adding value through tourism – offering training to enable them to find employment within the wildlife tourism industry.

Despite the impact on supply chains due to Covid-19 restrictions and subsequent lockdowns, the necessary materials were procured and 20 residents (15 men and 5 women) were nominated to help with the construction, this included:

  • Sourcing fencing poles
  • Collecting and dressing the poles
  • Digging holes and cement corner posts (5), gate posts (1) and stays (12)
  • Cleaning of the fence line
  • Stringing and fastening wires
  • Closing the fence for small stock

Nearly all the countries in the world have promised to improve the planet and the lives of its citizens by 2030.

They’ve committed themselves to 17 life-changing goals, outlined by the UN in 2015. These Global Goals, also known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), include ending extreme poverty, giving people better healthcare, and achieving equality for women.  The aim is for all countries to work together to ensure no one is left behind.

This project is aligned with the following goals:

Wildlife Conservation Association – Rwanda

Wildlife Conservation Association – Rwanda

RWANDA WILDLIFE CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION (RWCA)

 

The RWCA drives conservation awareness in communities surrounding key grey crowned crane areas. Founded by Rwandans who come from and understand local communities and their challenges, their mission is to provide sustainable solutions to critical wildlife conservation issues in Rwanda and East Africa.

To date the RWCA, with the support of the CCFA, has been responsible for:

  • Creating environmental youth clubs.
  • Training 9 mentors to guide the youth club members.
  • Planting 5, 525 indigenous trees from 19 different tree species around the Rugezi Marsh.
  • A two-day training workshop with a team of 30 conservation champions who will raise awareness around blue crowned cranes within their respective communities around the country.

 

Future plans for the RWCA include:

  • 6 educational events at schools along with the distribution of the RWCA conservation comic book, which aims to touch the lives of 4, 800 children.
  • Two workshops for local leaders around Rugezi Marsh and Akagera National Park.
  • A third national crane consensus to commence in August 2019.

 

PROJECT UPDATE

RWCA has continued to carry out community education and engagement to conserve Rwanda’s endangered Grey Crowned Cranes. They work towards the long-term goal of ensuring there are no Grey Crowned Cranes in captivity in Rwanda. Below are some recent activities that the project has implemented:

6 comic book events have been held in primary schools, with two taking place near Rugezi marsh- a key habitat for the crane. RWCA distributed 2,717 comic books, reaching 5,784 children. In the events, RWCA team members talk to children about Grey Crowned Cranes and the need to protect them and their habitat. One of the key messages is teaching children that it is not okay to take crane eggs or chicks and that cranes should not be kept in captivity.

RWCA organised two workshops for local leaders and local security around Rugezi Marsh (202 participants) and Akagera National Park (162 participants). The workshops involved different presentations to refresh their knowledge about Grey Crowned Cranes and the importance of protecting the marshland/natural areas and to discuss the different challenges they face and possible community solutions to those problems.

RWCA successfully implemented the third national crane census. They had teams of staff and volunteers visiting the field all over the country to sight cranes as well as an aerial survey taking place over Akagera National Park and Rugezi marsh. The results were highky encouraging with 748 cranes sighted in total, up from 487 and 459 in previous years.

 

Nearly all the countries in the world have promised to improve the planet and the lives of its citizens by 2030.

They’ve committed themselves to 17 life-changing goals, outlined by the UN in 2015. These Global Goals, also known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), include ending extreme poverty, giving people better healthcare, and achieving equality for women.  The aim is for all countries to work together to ensure no one is left behind.

This project is aligned with the following goals:

Northern Rangelands Trust – Kenya

Northern Rangelands Trust – Kenya

NORTHERN RANGELANDS TRUST (NRT)

There are currently 39 community conservancies covering 42, 000 square kilometres of northern and coastal Kenya, home to 320,000 people belonging to 18 different ethnic groups.  This territory is also home to an equally diverse array of wildlife including elephant, lion, giraffe, oryx, hirola and black rhino. This complex ecosystem offers a hub of potential for the type of change, growth and conservation awareness that the CCFA is proud to have supported. 

The NRT supports the management of community-owned land for the benefit of livelihoods, focusing on sustainable enterprise directly or indirectly related to conservation. Key focus points include good governance, wildlife, enterprise security and peace, rangelands and marine. 

To date 71, 000 people have benefitted from the Conservancy Livelihood Fund.

  • 700 women participated in peace-building training, from which they were historically excluded. This inclusion has highlighted the importance of the role of women in de-escalating conflict and positively influencing their sons and husbands.
  • Last year only 3 elephants were poached in the NRT landscape Centre; the lowest recorded number following a decreasing trend during which a 97% drop in elephants poached for ivory between 2012 and 2018 was noted.
  • More than 420 youths were engaged in conservancy initiative awareness, while over 850 youths were involved in dialogue meetings around key rangeland and peace issues.

Latest Update

The Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) was supported by CCFA in celebration of NRT’s 15th anniversary in 2019.  NRT started with just nine member conservancies back in 2004 and entered this new decade with 39 members strong.  While the member conservancies are home to many different ethnic groups, landscapes and wildlife, one thing that unites them all is a central mission to act as indigenous institutions – to support the management of community-owned land for the benefit of improving livelihoods.
2019 was a particularly triumphant year for community-led livelihoods development in conservancies, with the BeadWORKS businesswomen earning a 94% increase in income compared to 2018, over 3,000 students receiving bursaries, and over 740 youth and women accessing vocational training through their conservancies. NRT made significant investments in tourism infrastructure and the Conservancy Livelihoods Fund to link improved livelihoods to better conservation.
Indeed, indigenous-led endangered species conservation continues to break new ground and gain worldwide recognition. The endangered Hirola in Ishaqbini Community Conservancy in Garissa County are thriving under community stewardship, and the first of Reteti’s rescued elephants were returned to the wild (and are now interacting with wild herds). Sightings of Grevy’s zebra and elephant in conservancies are increasing too.  CCFA are happy to see that NRT are moving toward strengthening connectivity across the landscape through community conservancy networks – opening up ancient migration routes for so many species once again.

While 2019 certainly didn’t come without its challenges – the rain did not come until very late in the year and the majority of conservancies were suffering from a prolonged dry period – NRT continue to work with community conservancies, partners and County Government to build resilience and capability to weather climatic, political, and other storms.

Nearly all the countries in the world have promised to improve the planet and the lives of its citizens by 2030.

They’ve committed themselves to 17 life-changing goals, outlined by the UN in 2015. These Global Goals, also known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), include ending extreme poverty, giving people better healthcare, and achieving equality for women.  The aim is for all countries to work together to ensure no one is left behind.

This project is aligned with the following goals: