Zuka Game Reserve – The Story

Phinda, meaning “return’ in isiZulu was truly brought to it’s first phase of reality in 1991, pioneering the groundbreaking model of Care of the Land, Care of the Wildlife and Care of The People.

Quoting directly from “The Full Circle” by Dave Varty the enormity of this undertaking, the extraordinary logistics and brave hearted endeavor is distilled in to the simplicity of words in a paragraph as if the whole thing was just a regular instagram post!  However these few words paint the picture right here for an important chapter in our story.

By 1991 the construction of 120 kilometers of game fence construction began.  Les Carlisle, the moving spirit in creating a wilderness wonderland at Phinda, was appointed land manager.  The major restocking exercise he led turned out to be the largest relocation of wildlife ever undertaken in South Africa at that time.  Then we started to repair the massive erosion and encroachment caused by cattle ranching activities and we removed the rusted farm debris.  Very soon we had elephants, lions, cheetah and white rhino (21 were moved to the reserve in the largest translocation at one time)   Les even packed a python into his lunch box and carried it back to Phinda for release.  It was quite a story on its own.
Shan Varty wrote the story of Phinda “The Return” with Molly Buchanan, with so many observations, details, characters and events of this time alongside beautiful photographic visuals.  This paragraph from Shan’s book sums up the backbone of bringing Phinda and the vision to life.  Again, the simplicity of words on paper offer only a hint of the true grit, determination, financial risk, complexity and courage  through that time.
Phinda, developed without the aid of the public sector, was a hard learning curve.  But in less than a decade it has shown what is possible, never wavering from three bottom-line priorities: environmental sustainability, social opportunity and dignity, and economic prosperity.  The latter has been a long time coming.

Further Reading:
“Full Circle” by Dave Varty (with Molly Buchanan and published by Penguin Books, 2008)
‘’Phinda The Return’’ by Shan Varty and Mol