Kariega Game Reserve
Protecting Wildlife and Empowering Communities
Photos by: Kariega Game ReserveAuthor: KariegaKariega Game Reserve is a 11,500-hectare Big 5 malaria-free private game reserve in South Africa's Eastern Cape region. It offers a diverse safari experience with close-up Big 5 game viewing, rich flora and fauna, and stunning landscapes spanning 5 ecosystems with two tidal river estuaries running through the expansive wilderness.
 Kariega boasts five safari lodges: Main Lodge with 24 log chalets caters to the needs of families and groups; River Lodge on the Bushman's River offers a unique beach and bush combination; Ukhozi Lodge with private pools and great views is the ultimate in intimate luxury for couples and honeymooners; Settlers Drift, nestled in a remote part of the reserve speaks to the discerning, luxury traveler looking to experience hidden gems, and finally The Homestead is a private lodge ideal for family groups or special celebrations. Rates include accommodation, meals (and in some cases drinks), game drives, bush walks, and a river cruise, with fishing and canoeing available upon request.

But Kariega Game Reserve is so much more than a safari destination.

In the face of the alarming decline of wildlife and their habitats, Kariega Game Reserve, in partnership with The Kariega Foundation, stands as a testament to the vision and dedication of conservationists and forward-thinking entrepreneurs striving to positively impact the environment and the communities surrounding the reserve.
Conservation as a Motivation: The motivation behind Kariega Game Reserve extends far beyond the preservation of a single species. While the protection and preservation of rhinos is a core conservation objective, this endangered species serves as a ‘gateway’ that exposes the challenges faced by various wildlife and the ultimate goal of Kariega is to promote broad-based conservation and sustainable practices. The team at Kariega is driven by a deep-rooted commitment to rejuvenate not only the landscape and its inhabitants but also the lives of the people living in and around the reserve. Their motivation encompasses the well-being of the planet, its people, and the wildlife that inhabit it.
Three Core Pillars: Protection, Preservation, and Education

Kariega Game Reserve builds its conservation efforts on three fundamental pillars. These pillars work in harmony to achieve multi-layered goals.

Protection forms the foundation of Kariega's conservation initiatives. The reserve spans an impressive 11,500 hectares, comprising 21 different farms that have been transformed into a protected area over the course of 33 years. The comprehensive protection measures extend beyond legal safeguards, addressing the root causes of poaching, such as poverty, unemployment, and food scarcity. Through focusing on employment, skills development, and sustainable food production, Kariega tackles the underlying issues that drive people to engage in illegal activities.

Education plays a vital role at Kariega Game Reserve, starting with the guests who visit the reserve. Knowledgeable field guides provide valuable insights into not only the animals and plants but also the vulnerability of the ecosystem as a whole. Guests are encouraged to participate in community tours and contribute to conservation and community project via a nominal levy paid to the Kariega Foundation trust, fostering a deeper connection between the visitors and the local projects. The reserve also places great emphasis on educating and empowering the youth through their Youth Development Programme that employs and trains Youth Development Practitioners who teach social and emotional learning, permaculture, environmental education and run a vibrant sports programme across the communities that neighbour the reserve.

By nurturing a sense of self-connection and instilling a responsibility towards the community and the environment, Kariega Game Reserve aims to create a generation of conservation-minded individuals.

Preservation is the third critical conservation mandate. As the animal populations grow within the protected area, habitat expansion becomes necessary to ensure their continued well-being.

As the reserve grows so too does the need to actively engage new communities on the expanding boarders to provide opportunities for personal growth and leadership to address community needs and aspirations and create a sustainable model where all stakeholders benefit from the protected wild spaces.

Challenges in Funding: Funding conservation efforts remains a constant challenge. As a private conservation entity in South Africa, neither the reserve nor the Kariega Foundation receive any financial support, tax breaks or subsidies from the government. All funding to support conservation and community rejuvenation is raised through eco-tourism and private funding sources. Approximately 60% of funding comes from the conservation and community levy charged to adult guests visiting the reserve. This, coupled with collaborative fundraising efforts with local and international organisations, allows Kariega Game Reserve to sustain its conservation and community efforts. However, fundraising requires intentional effort and strategic planning, as the competition for financial support is fierce. While social media has its place, it has proven less effective for fundraising than targeted partnerships with like-minded organisations and family-owned businesses that share the same values.
The Ongoing Battle against Poaching: Poaching poses a significant threat to wildlife, and Kariega Game Reserve is no stranger to this challenge. Though the number of rhinos poached each year is on the decline in the Eastern Cape due to concerted efforts by various stakeholders, the reserve remains vigilant and continues to invest in anti-poaching measures. These measures include advanced technologies, as well as a dedicated K9, Mounted and foot patrol anti-poaching units. The reserve actively collaborates with neighbouring reserves and law enforcement agencies to combat poaching in the region.

Kariega Game Reserve remains dedicated to its mission and continues to make significant strides in safeguarding biodiversity and inspiring positive change.

Looking to the future:
Lindy Sutherland, Director of the Kariega Foundation reflects:
“The future outlook is good for us in the Eastern Cape. Despite the challenges and the feeling of being on our own, we work with some incredible people and have good support coming into the Eastern Cape.

My outlook is one of excitement, of hope and positivity. I am grateful to be alive and apart of this unfolding conservation story! 

When we look back in years to come it will be a compelling story to tell. But our success is still very dependent on a shift in global consciousness. Our very existence depends on the health of our planet. The planet, the people and wildlife on it are all one living, breathing organism.
We depend on each other for survival. It's as simple as that. And until that truth settles into our hearts, change will not be quick enough. Understanding this singular truth will hopefully inspire people to change.” Lindy Sutherland, Kariega Game Reserve.
More information about Kariega Game Reserve can be found via the following links:
Website: https://www.kariega.co.za/
Bookings: reservations@kariega.co.za
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Kariega.Game.Reserve?sk=wall
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kariega.game.reserve/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kariegagameres
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/KariegaGameReserve