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Timbavati History

In the early 1950’s a group of like-minded landowners realized that inappropriate land use could lead to habitat degradation and loss of wildlife for future generations. Working together, they formed the Timbavati Association in 1956, with the aim of preserving the natural integrity of the area.

Since that early start, the reserve has grown and now covers an area of 53,396 hectares with 47 landowners. Bound by a common constitution, the association is a non-profit body solely committed to preserving the fauna and flora of the area. An important milestone in the history of the reserve was the dropping, in 1993, of the fences between itself and the Kruger National Park and other adjoining privately owned conservation areas. This expansion of the open system initially included Timbavati, Klaserie and Umbabat Private Nature Reserves, and later the Balule Nature Reserve, adding some 184,000 hectares to what is today referred to as the Greater Kruger National Park. More recently the fences between the Timbavati and its neighbour to the west, Thornybush, were also dropped, which opened an additional 14,500 hectares, further encouraging natural species migration.

Since its humble origins in the 1950s, the reserve is now a highly professional organisation, that protects sustainable populations of many endangered species such as black and white rhinoceros, pangolins, saddlebilled storks, southern ground hornbills and many others. The Timbavati is home to a number of Safari lodges that cater to local and international tourists, bringing a thriving tourism economy to the region, and promoting employment within the reserve and in the neighbouring communities. The reserve also finances an outreach body, the Timbavati Foundation that runs a series of programmes that help neighbouring communities in areas such as boreholes, sustainable shaded vegetable farming as well as environmental awareness programmes for schoolchildren.

Human incursion into this part of the Lowveld has always been temporary and brief, from the stone age down to the early 20th century. Large tracts of land in the northern part of the Lowveld were never permanently settled by people. The lands now comprising the Timbavati were barely touched and are still only sparsely inhabited. This part of South Africa’s bushveld region may therefore be regarded as truly pristine and unspoiled; it is genuine wilderness, different from the “restored” and “restocked” lands commonly found elsewhere.

The Greater Kruger National Park

The Timbavati Private Nature Reserve lies within the Greater Kruger National Park open system, and within the internationally declared Kruger 2 Canyons UNESCO Man and Biosphere System. These systems, in turn, fall within the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA), a truly visionary landscape of reserves and habitats working together under a common agreement signed between 3 countries (South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe) in 2002.

On 5 December 2018, a Co-Operative Agreement was signed by the Kruger National Park (KNP) and all the open GLTFCA conservation and protected areas adjoining the KNP, thereby formalizing what is now known as the Greater Kruger National Park. This agreement enables a cooperative, integrated and consistent management and development approach to all stakeholders within the open system, based on five key management pillars: Governance, Environmental Management, Socio Economic Benefits, Safety and Security and Land Inclusion.

What is the Cooperative Agreement?
It is a landscape-level legal agreement between public and private conservation entities in the Greater Kruger open system. The agreement ensures that land in South Africa is protected in terms of the National Environmental Management Protected Areas Act (NEMPAA, Act 57 of 2003) and that robust governance structures are in place for effective protected area management across the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA). In brief, the Agreement ensures that national parks, nature reserves and protected environments follow common approaches towards managing nature, and the relationship between people and nature, in the Greater Kruger area.

Why do we need it?
The Agreement ensures a uniform framework for the protection, management and sharing of socio-economic benefits within our shared open system. It addresses a number of current and anticipated risks facing everyone with a stake in conservation (such as the persistence of rhino poaching). Through the Agreement, all stakeholders in the landscape now cooperate to address significant risks, to develop more opportunities and economic benefits for landowners, management authorities (such as Kruger National Park and Mpumalanga Parks and Tourism Agency), and communities living within the GLTFCA.

What does it mean for the Timbavati?
The Agreement confirms what the Timbavati has believed for many years: good governance is the key to sustainable protected area management. Through the Agreement, all of us sharing an invisible border within the open system get on the same page. In line with the agreement, the Timbavati strives for implementation of best practices on many levels, whether it be the management of endangered species, the eradication of alien plants, maintaining fire breaks, preventing bush encroachment, enabling sustainable tourism or ensuring our neighbouring communities form part of the wildlife economy. The agreement helps to guide and direct these activities to ensure that what we are doing in the Timbavati aligns with and enhances what our neighbours are doing and vice versa.

The Associated Private Nature Reserves (APNR) is an affiliation of private reserves contiguous to the western border of the Kruger National Park in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga Provinces of South Africa. The APNR consists of Timbavati Private Nature Reserve, Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, Balule Nature Reserve, Umbabat Private Nature Reserve and Thornybush Nature Reserve. Together these reserves occupy 184,000 hectares of land which is dedicated to wildlife. The APNR is a co-operative organization established to coordinate the interests of its members and to act as a single body in interacting with government entities.
In 1993, fences between the Associated Private Nature Reserves and the Kruger National Park were removed to encourage wildlife migration, and the Greater Kruger National Park was born. In December 2018 the landmark Co-operative Agreement was signed with the Kruger National Park. The APNR members are all signatories to the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area (GLTFCA) Cooperative Agreement for Conservation Areas.

The Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa. It extends across the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces of South Africa, reaching to the border with Zimbabwe in the north and Mozambique in the east. In 1898 it was known as the Government Wildlife Park; later it became the Sabi Game Reserve and in 1926, the Kruger National Park.
The Kruger National Park is the core of the Kruger 2 Canyons and Vhembe UNESCO Man and Biospheres, and the core of the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Conservation Area.

Kruger to Canyon Biosphere (K2C) is recognized under the UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) Man and the Biosphere Programme. The Biosphere was registered in 2001 as a member of the World network of more than 669 sites in over 120 countries. The Kruger to Canyon Biosphere Region is on the western border of Kruger National Park, in the north-eastern part of South Africa. It covers about 2.6 million hectares. Biosphere Reserves are regions throughout the world that host important ecosystems and protected areas adjacent to human settlements. They are established to develop and promote measures to conserve biodiversity and its sustainable use, while considering the needs of people around the area.

Currently, the TPNR acts as a host institution under the Environmental Monitors (EM) programme which was initiated in 2010 by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in response to challenges of high levels of unemployment in communities adjacent to conservation areas, coupled with increases in illegal wildlife trade. The programme aims to increase conservation capacity within South African National Parks (SANParks), provincial and private reserves and adjacent areas, building area integrity through monitoring, patrols and environmental education while simultaneously improving well-being. To date, the TPNR hosts fifteen Environmental Monitors who increase capacity, adding boots on the ground for wildlife security.

* The above information was taken from –