September 2014 – It is with mixed emotions that Wilderness Safaris announces its withdrawal from Pafuri Camp in the Makuleke Concession of northern Kruger National Park.
“Having been a partner to the Makuleke Community, landowners of this area, since September 2003, and having achieved numerous notable conservation, community and culture successes over the intervening decade, it has been a long, hard soul-searching decision to sell our interest in Pafuri Camp,” said Wilderness Safaris CEO Keith Vincent. “Following the resolution of our insurance claim for flood damage to the camp during 2013, and during our contemplation as to how best to rebuild the camp, a number of expressions of interest to purchase the camp were received.”
“Our decision to accept one of these offers is one that has been taken in close and comprehensive consultation with our partner the Makuleke Communal Property Association (CPA) and one that has explicitly sought the best outcome for the community,” he added. After assessing and vetting a number of the interested parties, both Wilderness Safaris and the Makuleke CPA are pleased to announce that Elsmore Investments Pty (Ltd) – themselves having a long association with the Makuleke Community – is the successful bidder and new partner to the Makuleke people in Pafuri Camp.
Pafuri Camp is likely to become operational again in the first half of 2015, with Elsmore committed to rebuilding and operating Pafuri Camp in its original location on the banks of the Luvuvhu River in this spectacularly beautiful, productive and biodiverse part of the Kruger.
For the remainder of 2014, Wilderness Safaris will continue to operate the Pafuri Walking Trail whereafter Elsmore will assume responsibility for it. Wilderness will also continue its commitment to the area, until at least the end of 2016, through initiatives like the Children in the Wilderness Eco-Clubs and camps for the Makuleke community. In addition, it will of course continue to work closely with Elsmore to promote and book Pafuri Camp and this remarkable and truly unique part of the Kruger National Park through its tour operating business.
In a statement issued by the Makuleke CPA, chairperson Bios Hlungwani thanked the company “for turning the lights on in the Makuleke Community”, and for “exceeding its responsibilities and commitment to its partner over more than 10 years of beneficial partnership.” In turn, Keith Vincent thanked the community for their goodwill and support and expressed his sadness at the departure of the company. He wished the CPA and their new partners “every success in the sustainable protection of a critical conservation area that will continue to go from strength to strength as both a conservation corridor in the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and a commercial asset to the broader Makuleke Community.”