Conservation Stories: Grass Harvesting In Khwai

Author Pru Allison
Date October 28, 2019

We’ve got a plethora of conservation and community projects in action across our areas, and here’s one with a real focus on the local community.

Every year more than 200 community members from the Khwai Village come into the Khwai Private Reserve in order to harvest grass which they use both to build and to sell. This is one of the biggest projects in terms of income coming into the community.

The community spends some three months cutting the grass, with harvesting groups comprising of large numbers of community members

Previously, the community members undertaking the task would come into NG 18 where Khwai Private Reserve is located. They would build shelters to live in during the grass harvesting period; they would bring minimal food and would bring domestic dogs with them to deter predators but this also caused poaching and hunting. Once they were done with cutting grass, lack of transport also meant that the grass they had cut could not easily get to market, and could sometimes be left uncollected for months  on end.

Upon seeing their work and the obstacles the community were facing, Natural Selection and Khwai Private Reserve decided to provide the villagers with support in the form of safe dome tented accommodation, food and transportation. In addition, the dogs now remain in the Khwai village however food is provided for them by Natural Selection Conservation trust in conjunction with Khwai Private Reserve. This also includes dog feeders for the 3 months.

Approximately 38 households are supported over the three month grass harvesting period which starts in July and ends in October. We also provide the community with the means to get to Nata to sell their grasses. In fact, this year we even bought some which we used in the thatching of the Kgotla and one of our camps The Jackal and Hyde. The grass has also helped to thatch the Khwai Preschool which we support.

Today, the reserve’s rangers work alongside the local community members to help them retain a low environmental footprint during the harvesting period, causing minimal disruption to wildlife and future grass harvesting areas. This allows sustainable harvesting practices to continue, and also forms a platform for ideas to be shared between land use partners.

This is a really lovely project that allows us to support the local community in their endeavours.

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