• A cash-strapped game reserve in northern Zululand has started selling off its impala and nyala stock for meat.
  • The tourism industry has been starved of any income after months of lockdown, and there is still no indication when foreign tourists will be allowed back.
  • Demand for the meat has been strong, and prices are appealing. 
  • For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

A game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal has started selling its impala and nyala stock for meat in order to survive a coronavirus-induced financial crisis.

Wildlife reserves have been starved of income during lockdown with inter-provincial leisure travel only allowed since this week.

But South Africa's borders remain closed for international leisure travellers, with no end-date in sight, which has had a severe impact on businesses relying on tourism.

Somkhanda Game Reserve is a community-owned game reserve, which contains the big five, and located across 12,000 hectares in northern Zululand.

It is owned by the Emvokweni Community Trust, which represents the local Gumbi community, and co-managed by the Wildlands, a programme of the conservation body Wildtrust.

“Bills are pilling up ... so we decided to cull the animals that breed in numbers so we can sell the meat to supplement income during this time,” leader of the Emvokweni Community Trust, Fana Gumbi told Reuters.

The reserve has been selling impala and nyala meat, says Wildlands CEO Dr Roelie Kloppers. "The response has been fantastic."

He told Business Insider that there is strong demand for the meat among more health conscious consumers. Game meat is lower in total and saturated fat than red meat.

Also, consumers are "buying into" the fact that their support will help a community-owned reserve run a sustainable business, he said.

Prices are appealing. The reserve is selling stew meat for around R60/kg - which is a lot cheaper than lamb, for example, Kloppers says.

It also sells hamburgers, as well as wors and mince for between R30 and R50 per 500g.

The meat is currently sold online via KZN Game Meat, as well as in Howick Pick n Pay and a number of smaller stores. Clients also buy the meat from the reserve directly.

The reserve plans to sell between 400 and 800 animals this year - which will only be around 10% of its total impala and nyala population.

This is below their natural breeding growth rate, and should not affect the population in the reserve, Kloppers said.

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