Conservation and community initiatives.

So much happens behind the scenes at Thanda Safari to ensure an incredible wildlife experience for our guests and to contribute to wildlife and environmental conservation on the reserve and in KwaZulu-Natal. Thanda Safari is engaged in several critical initiatives, including our flagship rhino programme. Thanda’s ethos is one of wildlife and communities supporting each other, and Thanda’s neighbouring Zulu communities, many of whose members are employed on Thanda, are partners in conservation, employment, skills development, career advancement and community educational initiatives.


Thanda Safari has a highly skilled wildlife and environment management team operating 24/7 behind the scenes to manage the reserve, to combat rhino and elephant poaching in the region and to participate in breeding and range expansion programmes for critically endangered species.

Thanda Safari’s partners in conservation.

Landscape rehabilitation, alien vegetation clearing, fencing, water monitoring, managing all the complex dynamics of a Big Five game reserve, including translocating or introducing animals to ensure genetic diversity – this is all part of the daily life of Thanda Safari’s conservation team. In addition, a range of ongoing research projects on the reserve ensuring that Thanda Safari Private Game Reserve contributes to leading-edge conservation strategies and methods.
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife is the government body overseeing wildlife and environmental conservation in KwaZulu-Natal. It is highly supportive of Thanda Safari’s biodiversity and conservation programmes. Reciprocally, Thanda Safari supports Ezemvelo’s environmental awareness initiatives, including fundraising, educational and sports programmes.
The Wildlands Conservation Trust (Wildlands) is a not-for-profit organisation working to restore and conserve natural ecosystems in the region. Wildlands and Thanda Safari work together on a number of conservation programmes, of which the biggest is Project Rhino KZN.

Thanda Safari’s critically endangered species conservation initiatives include the African wild dog breeding programme, which is now being continued at Tswalu Game Reserve in the Kalahari. Thanda also partners with the Endangered Wildlife Trust on cheetah breeding and spotted hyena research.


Thanda is a founder member of Project Rhino KZN, an intensive anti-poaching and conservation collaboration between KwaZulu-Natal’s leading conservation agencies, provincial game reserves, provincial government bodies, private game reserves and anti-poaching security specialists.

The WWF Black Rhino Range Expansion Project (BRREP) tirelessly works at increasing the number of critically endangered black rhinos, by facilitating partnerships with private landowners with suitable black rhino habitats. Thanda Safari is a proud partner.
Adjoining Thanda is the 6 700 hectare Mduna Royal Reserve, which includes ‘Ipiva’, the game reserve of the Zulu King. To create the Mduna Royal Reserve, Thanda returned the land to wilderness and reintroduced the wildlife. Thanda Safari manages the Mduna Royal Reserve in return for exclusive traversing rights.

Thanda’s entire 14 000-hectare property was proclaimed as a protected environment in 2015. The same land was first proclaimed a protected area in 1895 by the then British colonial government of Natal, but de-proclaimed in 1907. In 2015, Thanda was able to reclaim its protected status as one of the first proclaimed nature reserves in South Africa.


Participate in wildlife conservation as a volunteer with Thanda Safari’s Ulwazi Research & Volunteer Programme. Safari-style accommodation is provided in thatched chalets at our Intibane Research & Training Centre. The programme is a joint venture between Thanda Safari and Africa Nature Training (ANT).


Thanda’s ethos is one of wildlife reserves and communities supporting each other. Thanda’s neighbouring Zulu communities, are our partners in conservation, and we are committed to contributing to employment, skills development, career advancement and educational initiatives.

Our community engagement.

Thanda Safari and the Thanda Foundation has always recognised its role in partnering with its neighbouring communities in a range of job creation, educational and socio-economic upliftment programmes. These include Thanda’s flagship Star for Life education and HIV/AIDS prevention programme, the Inkanyiso Crèche project and a job creating, paper-making project. Thanda Safari staff members from these communities are offered further education and skills advancement opportunities.
Star for Life
Wildlands Conservation Trust
Project Rhino
Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife
Chasing Rhino
Inkanyiso Crèche

The Thanda Foundation Trust was established to engage with the socio-economic, educational and developmental needs of the three tribal communities neighbouring Thanda in the Umkhanyekude District, as well as the preservation of Zulu culture. The Trust supports several community-based projects and serves as a fundraising vehicle for these projects, including the following.

Renowned South African artists, Kobus Hattingh and Jacob Maponyane, were commissioned by the Thanda Foundation Trust to create a range of bronze sculptures of the late Nelson Mandela. This included a six-metre work of Mandela, created in 2004. It was placed in Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton, and was the first public sculpture of Mandela to be unveiled in South Africa. Proceeds from the sale of the Mandela statues are distributed to the Mvezo Development Trust in the Eastern Cape, birthplace of Nelson Mandela. Part of the Thanda Foundation Trust

Thanda Safari is committed to supporting the youngest members of one of its neighbouring Zulu communities through the Inkanyiso Crèche, situated in the Esibhojeni area, close to the reserve. Assisted by donations from our guests, Thanda recently built the new crèche and provided a water tank and fencing for the playground. The crèche has approximately 40 children aged between two and four years.

Part of the Thanda Foundation Trust.

View more about Inkanyiso Crèche


The Thanda Foundation Trust, assisted by the Space for Elephants Foundation, together with funding from the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), has launched an elephant dung paper project in the town of Jozini in northern KwaZulu-Natal to contribute to employment and income-generation in the greater Thanda Safari community. The project empowers local communities, particularly women, to use elephant dung to make paper, which is commercially sought after worldwide. Part of the Thanda Foundation Trust
The Thanda Lions Football Team or ‘Amabhubese’ (isiZulu for ‘The Lions’) predominantly comprises unemployed youth from the Thanda region. In addition to soccer coaching, it assists the players with personal development and education. Part of the Thanda Foundation Trust
Since 2008 Football for Life has supported the development of women’s football in the UMkhanyakude Region, where Thanda Safari is situated. The emphasis is on strengthening young women’s health, self-esteem and position in society. Football for Life also has an academy programme for the development of talented female players, coaches, referees and administrators. Part of the Thanda Foundation Trust
The Thanda Community Forum includes representation from Thanda Safari’s three neighbouring communities: the Mandlakazi, Mdletshe and Ngwenya tribal authorities. Thanda employs a Community Liaison Officer to facilitate community engagement, initiatives and programmes.

The Thanda Foundation’s flagship philanthropic programme is Star for Life – a unique educational initiative that has empowered over 500 000 young people in Zululand and southern Africa to pursue their education, live healthy lives and reach for their dreams.

Star for Life was established as an NGO by Christin and Dan in 2005, and now has a team of over 100 people in Africa. Today, it is registered in South Africa, Namibia and Tanzania, as well as in Sweden, Norway, Germany, East Jerusalem / Israel and the Ukraine, all operating under one banner and leadership association.

Dan says the greatest investment he has made in his life is in Love – in Thanda and the Star for Life project. He speaks with immense passion about the wonderful experience of seeing how this educational, health and well-being programme has actively empowered so many African children to seize this opportunity and strive for successful, productive lives.

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Located about 90 minutes from Thanda Safari and in close proximity to the Royal Palace in Nongoma of the Zulu King, is Thokazi Royal Lodge, the late His Majesty King Zwelithini Goodwill kaBhekuzulu’s privately owned guesthouse. Thanda proudly manages Thokazi Royal Lodge on behalf of His Majesty.

This #ChasingZero collaboration between the Princess Charlene de Monaco Foundation and Thanda Foundation Trust aims to initiate a targeted global awareness campaign to reduce rhino horn consumption and raise funds for a national youth education campaign and to support game reserves and communities in Zululand.

Part of The Thanda Foundation Trust.

“Oh my goodness, this place is simply amazing. Everything was exceptional.”