It was Nelson Mandela who said: “If we do not do something to prevent it, Africa’s animals, and the places in which they live, will be lost to our world, and her children, forever.”

Our heritage is beautiful and multifaceted

September is known as a month of celebration as countless South Africans commemorate our nation’s rich and colourful heritage. The term ‘heritage’ is, however, deceptively straightforward. Whereas it is typically associated with cultural traditions, it also encompasses the collective natural environment of South Africa.  Our staggering natural landscapes, as well as the wildlife that inhabits it, are as much a part of our heritage as our mother tongues and traditional garments. Unfortunately, just like much of our culture, our natural heritage is under severe threat. Without swift, concerted efforts, future generations may never get to indulge in our startling natural heritage.

Red-billed oxpeckers on giraffe

Our wildlife and their habitats are becoming increasingly vulnerable

Wildlife plays a fundamental role in local tourism. It acts as a powerful tool that can be utilised to not only grow and develop the local economy, but also to protect the country’s natural heritage. Unfortunately, our precious wildlife has to contend with a very dangerous enemy: humans. Too often we destroy their natural habitat and many times wild animals are also kept as domestic pets. Thankfully, there are individuals who have dedicated their lives to the conservation of our natural heritage.

At the Sundown Country Estate near Rustenburg, a conservation project sees wild animals being rescued from harrowing conditions. Here the rescued animals receive the necessary care to try and undo some of the harm caused by being kept in captivity. Sadly, due to the extent of their injuries and neglect, these animals can never be reintroduced into the wild.  Tours are being organized by the estate in an attempt to educate the public about the negative impact of keeping a wild animal as a pet.

Aerial view of the Sundown Country Estate near Rustenburg

Go on, celebrate our natural heritage

While we celebrate National Heritage Day today, let’s also revel in the natural beauty that surrounds us. Let’s respect nature’s intricate web of life. If you are in a position to make a financial donation to an organization that focuses on conservation – do it. If you can’t, don’t despair as there are a myriad of other ways you can contribute towards conservation.

  • Don’t keep wild animals as pets
  • Support eco-tourism
  • Don’t litter
  • Explore the natural beauty of our country
  • Donate and Recycle

We are immensely blessed to live in one of the most naturally beautiful countries in the world. It is up to each and every one of us to preserve this priceless gift for future generations to enjoy.

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