Diamonds are forever but time is running out for our planet which is why De Beers’ heir, Nicky Oppenheimer and his wife Strilli work tirelessly for environmental conservation.
Tswalu Kalahari Reserve owners, Nicky and Strilli Oppenheimer, were recently jointly presented with the prestigious World Wildlife Fund (WWF) – Lonmin Award for environmental conservation.
The Lonmin Award was made for the Oppenheimer’s active and involved support of conservation projects aiming to foster the biodiversity of the county’s mammals, birds, invertebrates (insects), fish and reptiles and vegetation. It highlighted the establishment last May, of the Diamond Birding Route on the many conservation areas surrounding De Beers mines and on Oppenheimer properties in South Africa.
Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, an exclusive luxury private, malaria free game reserve situated in the heart of the Northern Cape Province is included in the Diamond Birding Route. Tswalu offers the ultimate safari experience in elegantly simple surroundings with the swimming pool opening to the remarkable scene of animals drinking at a nearby watering hole.
To Tswalu Kalahari Reserve game stock belong lion, leopard, hyena, kudu, nyala, eland, buffalo, waterbuck, tssesebe, wildebeest, kudu, impala, black and white rhino, zebra, cheetah and many more.
Star gazing is big at Tswalu, hot air ballooning too, but Tswalu Kalahari Reserve is known across the world as an excellent place for bird watching with more than 200 species of birds some of them indigenous to the arid zone, found in the varying habitats of the reserve. Raptors and in particular, vultures, are very well represented. The most abundant species are the white-backed vulture and the lappet-faced vulture.
Tswalu provides a refuge and suitable habitat for vultures and is attracting more and more birds to the area. The game reserve participates in the monitoring programme of the Kalahari Raptor Project which was established because raptor numbers in this part of the country were dwindling due to conflict between farmers and the raptors. Over the past decade the Kalahari Raptor Project has been successful and the Kalahari area has become an important destination for bird-watchers who want to observe these magnificent birds in their natural habitat in the Kalahari.
Presenting Nicky and Strilli Oppenheimer with the Award, Dr Rob Little CEO of WWF South Africa said: “This Award is a fitting acknowledgement of the outstanding contribution the Oppenheimer family and De Beers have made to environmental conservation in our beautiful country.”
Strilli Oppenheimer, in thanking Lonmin and the WWF for recognising the hundreds of people who did so much to make the conservation work which was being recognized replied; “Changes in the environment is beginning to affect all of us. At last environmental conservation which we have inherited as custodians is not a subject of only specialist and activist interest; rather it is an imperative for society as a whole to hand on a less distressed situation than that we have caused.”
The Diamond Birding Route [http://www.diamondbirdingroute.co.za] is a partnership between BirdLife South Africa, De Beers and the Oppenheimer family company, serves as a collective and related brand for all these unique and different birding conservation areas, dedicated to biodiversity, environmental conservation and ecotourism which supports the development of communities.
Nine De Beers and Oppenheimer properties, situated in Gauteng, Northern Cape and Limpopo Province, have opened about 250,000 hectares of ecologically rich and diverse protected areas to the public. Tswalu Kalahari Reserve is included in the diamond Birding Route and part of the Kalahari Raptor Project.