Isibindi Africa Lodges (Isibindi Africa) is continuing with its community work through the Isibindi Foundation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

All the lodges – such as the Thonga Beach Lodge in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park and Tsowa Safari Island in Victoria Falls – are run as joint ventures with the communities and serve as the primary source of employment and income for these communities.

CEO of Isibindi Africa, Brett Gehren, said the main concern for the company was the residents of these rural communities who find it difficult to adhere to the regulations.

“It is very difficult for people to be confined to their homes in these communities, as they are often in need of food and supplies and live in very small homes,” said Gehren. “Hence, one has to understand that the socio-environmental conditions are certainly not lockdown friendly.”

The Isibindi Foundation is currently planning a strategy to procure and distribute resources – such as hand sanitisers, masks, thermometers and information pamphlets in isiZulu – to the various communities to assist with preventing the spread of the disease. 

“Many people in these communities have compromised immune systems and the effects of the virus spreading could be disastrous, both health-wise and economically,” said Gehren.

At Tsowa Safari Island, Isibindi Africa’s conservation efforts in the Zambezi National Park are continuing during the pandemic and the company is in negotiations with a European funder, which will allow the Isibindi Foundation to significantly grow its anti-poaching programmes within the park.

“We are pursuing various avenues of funding to get as many resources as possible to assist the communities, including our staff,” said Gehren.

“The management and staff are doing their best during this time of crisis to minimise and mitigate the impact of the pandemic with courage and determination, and we’re confident that we will get through this storm together.”