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HOW THE ZULULAND CONSERVATION TRUST CAME TO BE…

It was as concerned custodians of a very threatened Rhino population that we came together to create the Zululand Conservation Trust. In 2011 it became apparent that the safety of black and white rhino alike was under increasing threat in all corners of the land.

Between 2009 and 2017, poaching had risen by a gut-wrenching 745% which in turn meant an increase in security costs too. As a result, private landowners became more and more reluctant to take part in rhino conservation efforts.

Compounding this was the risk landowners incurred to their own lives by having these animals on their acreage – despite the fact that black rhinos are not owned by private landowners or reserves but merely on loan as part of the WWF Black Rhino Range Expansion Program.

And so, we set out to register the Zululand Conservation Trust (formally the Zululand Rhino Reserve Foundation). Our goal? To protect the endangered wildlife of South Africa, specifically the maligned black and white rhino, to conserve our beautiful lands, and to uplift local communities.
On the 23 May 2011, we, the Zululand Conservation Trust were granted certification as a Non-Profit Organisation. Since then, we’ve fought hard to preserve these lands, communities and the animals that inhabit them.

MEET THE TEAM

Kelly Airton

Administrative manager
Kelly has been with ZCT from day one volunteering her time and skills, making sure the admin and financials are always up to date and that the Trust never runs into debt. Kelly’s commitment to the Trust is fuelled by her passion for conservation and her desire to empower local communities with educational programmes and practical tools to succeed. Kelly took the reins organising Rhino Ride many years back, and has been ensuring its smooth sailing since then. Her skill at whipping up a spreadsheet ensures everything is marked and allocated as necessary. We are extremely lucky to have Kelly bringing her very organised and passionate skills to the team.

Frances Hannah

ZCT Project co-ordinator
Frances began her journey in conservation as a field guide in 2013, and in her spare time she assisted the Trust with community and conservation projects and later joined the ZCT team in 2016 running the projects from the ground. Frances continues to run community projects that assist Manyoni Reserve with the community relations. Her focus is the education and wellbeing of the youth, and she hopes to inspire young children to take pride in wildlife protection and instil a passion for conservation. Frances is also the grease and grime behind the small team that execute our Big 6 and Rhino Ride fundraising events.

Julia Rugheimer

Zululand Rhino Orphanage coordinator
Julia has always had a passion for wildlife, nature and the environment and knew from a young age that she wanted to dedicate her life to working for animals. She started volunteering at a Predator park at the age of 14 and gained experience in caring for animals of all ages. She completed her FGASA level 1 and placement period through Ecotraining and worked with a great variety of animals. No job is too big, small, dirty or challenging for her. Julia joined the Orphanage team as a carer in August 2019 and her love, care and commitment shone bright. Julia is currently studying Animal Health through UNISA and has been appointed as our orphanage coordinator. Our rhino and hippos are in good hands with her passionate and caring nature.

Jabu Nkosi

Rehabilitated animal carer
Jabu started working inside game reserves from an early age, she began as a housekeeper at prestigious lodges, and then became an integral part of reserve management team keeping the offices and grounds in tip top shape. When the Orphanage was built, we desperately needed a caring motherly figure to care for the young animals in our facility. Jabu rose to the occasion and put in dedicated time and effort to assist in the rehabilitation of the animals in her care. Jabu has grown in confidence and expertise and has formed incredible relationships with the orphans over the past years. Jabu’s big bright smile keeps all her colleagues in good spirits even when times are tough.

Nokwanda Mabuyakhulu

Rehabilitated animal carer
Nokwanda has always had an incredible nurturing attitude and has a history of au pairing inside the game reserve, she later moved to housekeeping and thrived in the cleanliness and hard work that was required by guest’s standards. Nokwandas husband is a field ranger who monitors wild white rhinos and his skill and passion for them rubbed off on her. When we needed an extra pair of hands at our facility during our expansion she was the natural choice. With tiny Khula needing round the clock care, Nokwanda’s caring nature, motherly love and affectionate manner added to our team perfectly.

Sitembiso Makhanyela

Maintenance guru
Sitembiso has a background in the building industry. His handy work and creative mind have paired perfectly with the needs of the ZCT. He is our ‘go to guy’ no task is too difficult, if its installing cupboards, building bomas or chairing community meetings, he is an all-star that we’re not sure how we did so long without! Sitembiso joined our team in early 2019 when a building contract finished up, we were impressed by his interest in the animal’s welfare and his extremely useful skills. Sitembiso works closely with the communities, making sure that he minutes all meetings and resolves any conflicts.

Megan Lategan

Zululand Rhino Orphanage fundraising coordinator and advisor
Megan worked at Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park, Mkhuze Game Reserve, Tembe Elephant Park and Manyoni Private Game reserve as a wildlife and priority species monitor after completion of her FGASA and Trails Guide training. Megan spent every day in the field and gaining valuable experience in wildlife management. She moved to Phinda Private Game Reserve where she continued her career as wildlife monitor with more focus on research. Megan was appointed as the manager at the Zululand Rhino Orphanage as there was a need for someone knowledgeable and willing to spend many hours hands-on and in the field with the animals. Her knowledge base on animal husbandry is exceptional and she has established a support network with other similar facilities which has added value to the operations of the ZRO.

Megan also has a degree in Business Administration specializing in Marketing through the IMM BBA institute which is of great value for the administration, marketing and fundraising role that is required for the ZRO. Megan is in her final year of her Nature Conservation Diploma with UNISA and would like to start a Veterinary Nursing Diploma after that. Megan managed the ZRO for two and a half years and is now part of the ZRO advisory board where she continues to be an integral part of our team.

David Attenborough

Chairman and Trustee
David Attenborough’s passion for ‘things wild’ started at an early age where most afternoons were spent in Pigeon Valley ( a local city park inhabited by red and blue duiker and wonderful birds), and was further kindled with family trips to Kruger National Park, Etosha and the Zululand Game reserves as well as regular trips down the wild coast.
This love of nature and awareness of conservation received a massive nudge when David undertook a Wilderness Leadership Trail through Umfolozi, under the guidance of Jim Feely of the Wilderness Leadership School – the trail consisted of international participants (Americans, Israeli, German and another South African), David comments 'that experienced really opened my eyes to the Wilderness and the need to conserve it'.

It was always David’s dream to have a ‘place in the bush’ and when David became a shareholder in the Zululand Rhino Reserve, the dream became a reality.

This passion for wildlife combined with an impulsive drive to preserve and conserve has resulted in David getting involved in the Zululand Rhino Reserve Foundation with the aim of contributing to community and wildlife

Don Airton

Chairman and Trustee
Don’s interest in conservation spans a life time, his love for nature began in the woodlands and fields of England. His emigration to South Africa as a young man gave him the opportunity to expand his interests further, initially into Game Bird research. The purchase of a property on Manyoni Private Game Reserve in the Northern Zululand in 2005 led to close involvement with true conservation and conservationists for the first time and his subsequent position as Chairman for the past fifteen years coupled with the development of the Reserve and the Foundation has given him the opportunity to 'really make a difference'.

Murray Collins

Trustee
Murray has always held the Wild and all things Conservation close to his heart. He worked closely with the late Dr Ian Player and served as a Trustee of the Wilderness Leadership School. His desire to care for our earth has also seen him extend his "Conservation Footprint” globally. As a director of Biocarbon Partners, he endeavours to combat climate change through protecting the forests in Zambia, and works relentlessly to promote, rehabilitate and enhance conservation in the outer islands of Seychelles as an Honorary Trustee of the Island Conservation Society and Alphonse Foundation.

Back here at home, what began with the purchase of a property in 2006 in the, then, ZRR, has resulted in a position on the Board of Manyoni Private Game Reserve affording Murray many opportunities to develop the Reserve and preserve our Wildlife, while simultaneously uplifting the local community. Joining the ZCT team has made it possible for Murray to roll up his sleeves and really get “stuck in" to making a difference …. A role which Murray counts as a great privilege!

Todani Moyo

Trustee
Todani Moyo is the Chairman and CEO of Yokoyo Investments (Pty) Ltd. He is a professional accountant, with experience as an investment banker in the United States of America and was Chairman and CEO of Msinsi Holdings (Pty) Ltd in South Africa. He sits on a number of Boards in South Africa, bringing expertise in corporate governance and enterprise risk management.

King Nkosi Zulu

Patron
Mr.E.B Zulu is the traditional leader of the Mandlakazi area in the Zululand region and has 107 ndunas (traditional leaders) under his authority which oversee thousands of people in the surrounding communities on the borders of the Manyoni Private Game Reserve. King Nkosi Zulu joined as a patron to the Zululand Conservation Trust in 2017 as ZCT, over the years, have shown great support to the communities through educational programmes, employment opportunities, sporting functions and food relief. To be affiliated with the ZCT and Manyoni Private Game Reserve means that we can work together to protect nature and its people.