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 The African Habitat Conservancy Foundation (AHCF) has been hard at work in Babanango Game Reserve's local communities, instituting a number of important projects designed to have a positive impact on the thousands of families who live around the reserve. To date more than R1,5-million has been invested into community projects alone.
This is where our ethos of Pioneering with Purpose meets the frontline of sustainable development, out in the various villages on our periphery where the AHCF comes into its own.
"The work we do is two-fold," explains Kudzai Mqingwana who heads up the AHCF. "We identify and roll out our own programmes that are tailored specifically to the needs of our communities whilst also helping to broker the involvement of various other NGOs working in the rural community and conservation development space, partnering with them on specific campaigns and projects." she explains.
"So we installed new boreholes to provide clean, fresh water for both people and livestock, while also receiving support from the Kingsley Holgate Foundation on their hunger alleviation campaign in 2020" says Kudzai. "Over the festive season the Foundation also purchased and branded sports kits for our local youth soccer and netball teams," she adds. "We are also working with Wildlife ACT to give children from local primary schools access to conservation education on the reserve."
Kudzai has a team of people working with her at the AHCF, two key members of which come from the local communities themselves. "Mkhawuleni Magwaza is our internal stakeholders liaison and consults to the AHCF. He's a local police officer working with us to strengthen relationships in our communities," she explains. "Then we have Thokozani Hlope, our full-time projects officer, and Eric Buthelezi, our external liaison officer in charge of government and local business liaison," she says. "We are also being supported by Londiwe Buthelezi and Sfiso Magwaza on our projects."
"It's our passion to pioneer and provide support and relief in the community," says Kudzai. "Our community around the reserve are extremely excited at what is being achieved and I firmly believe we will go from strength to strength with our partners in all of AHCF’s projects"
AHCF is a Public Benefit Organisation (PBO 930070603).  Donations to AHCF projects to support community grants can be made via Nedbank | Acc No: 1205473084 | Branch Code: 198765
There's a whole new way to experience the breathtaking landscapes of Babanango Game Reserve, thanks to the introduction of horse trails at this 22,000ha reserve located in the northern reaches of KwaZulu-Natal's Zulu heartland.
Aimed at all riding enthusiasts, irrespective of their experience, the horse trails are offered for a maximum of eight guests accompanied by two qualified and experienced guides. They focus on the amazing experience of riding through the spectacular scenery, appreciating the environment and absorbing the spirit of this wonderful wilderness.
Introducing a string of 10 beautiful Boerperd horses, trained by renowned breeder and endurance rider Wiesman Nel, these are one of the most popular breeds for trails of this nature and therefore a perfect fit for Babanango. A South African breed, originally of Arab descent, it is renowned for being strong and hardy.
By the time the reserve becomes a fully-fledged Big Five destination in 2022, they will have become acclimatised to the terrain and all the other animals that call Babanango home.
One-hour outrides are offered, as well as half-day and full-day trails. In time overnight trails will also be available with riders camping under the stars in dome tents.
"We are currently finalising a choice of different trail options which will include riding between our lodges, crossing the White Umfolozi and exploring the most interesting features on the reserve," says Babanango Head Guide Justin Hall. "The wonderful thing about horse riding on a game reserve is that the animals don't see you as a threat - they just see the horse and regard it as another, perhaps slightly odd-looking animal. This offers riders the chance to truly appreciate game viewing in a completely unobtrusive way," he adds.
Partners for life

February is the month of love, so this month we are looking at one of our most iconic bird species that pairs for life - the beautiful blue crane... Here at Babanango Game Reserve we are blessed to have a wonderful population of blue cranes - South Africa's national bird.
This regal and elegant bird is listed as vulnerable by the IUCN and is revered by the Zulu people, who call it "indwe". Indeed, Zulu chiefs were awarded blue crane feathers as a sign of their leadership.
When they are breeding, blue cranes are exceptionally territorial and will chase other blue cranes and animals as big as rhino away from their nesting site and its vicinity. They choose secluded grasslands to nest in, laying their eggs either on the grass or on bare ground. They breed only once a year, producing a single brood of chicks which are incubated by both sexes.
When summer comes to an end, the pairs and their young form groups that merge to form flocks that can be hundreds of birds strong. They stick together throughout the dry, winter season, roosting together near water.
During November 2020, there were a number of South African bloggers who visited Babanango Game Reserve; resulting in lots of postings on social media platforms sharing their experiences, including this video herewith.  Taken by Carmen van der Westhuizen and Melanie van Zyl, it gives a very comprehensive overview of Babanango’s vision including especially the commitment from The African Habitat Conservancy Foundation (AHCF)
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