The Khwai Private Reserve is a venture with the Khwai Village and we attach great importance to working alongside the local community on management of the area, including the implementation of wildlife-friendly land uses.
Every year more than 200 community members from the Khwai Village come into the Khwai Private Reserve to harvest grass used for building and selling. This has been an important income generator for the community but in the past, has carried with it many challenges for the harvesters and impacts on the wildlife of the reserve.
The grass harvesting period is approximately three months in duration, with harvesting groups including small children and elderly members of the community. Previously, the community members undertaking the harvesting were faced with challenges such as the need to build temporary shelters and the need to provide food for themselves and for their dogs while living far from home. After the harvest, the lack of transport also meant that the harvested grass could not easily get to market and could sometimes be left uncollected for months on end.
Upon understanding the work and obstacles faced by harvesters, Khwai Private Reserve and Natural Selection began supporting these villagers with safe dome-tented accommodation, food and transportation. In addition, the provision of pet food and dogsitters meant that dogs could be left in the village rather than bringing them into wildlife areas for the harvest – a practice that had unfortunate consequences for both dogs and wildlife.
Approximately 38 households are supported over the three-month grass harvesting period which starts in July and ends in October each year. We also provide the community with the means to get to Nata to sell their grasses and purchase some of the grass ourselves. This year we bought grass to thatch the village “Kgotla” and one of our camps The Jackal & Hide. 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.
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