Elephant Dung Project

About the project

Elephant dung paper is 100% recycled, and 100% odour and bacteria free. Not only does the project encourage tourism in the area, it also assists members of the community to generate an income and develop an appreciation for the protection of wildlife in the area.

Paper produced from elephant dung is simple, cost-effective and a great way to reuse natural resources. The project requires limited cash input due to the fact that there is a constant supply of ‘product’ in the area, the manufacturing tools are uncomplicated and the project is easy to maintain.

Proceeds from the sale of the paper go towards the improvement and maintenance of the wildlife close by.

Further Rationale and Objectives of the Project

The project forms part of a rural development plan for the village industries. The project areas have been declared disadvantaged areas and according to the KwaZulu-Natal’s Premier, it should receive preference for development purposes. The dung paper making site benefits the tourism industry, as well as assists the surrounding impoverished communities in need of income.

The paper making workshops are established at The Wildlife Spirit, part of the Pongolapoort Nature Reserve at Nkosi Myeni Nsinde Traditional Authority. The reserve supports good numbers of elephants and rhinos. It is the general policy of wildlife reserves to engage with and encourage the surrounding communities to become involved in the economic opportunities. This ensures that, as long as communities are earning an income from the protected areas, they will support the existence of wildlife there. Popular tourist activities already available in the area include accommodation in ethnic homes, elephant and rhino watching, fishing, indigenous food providers, canoeing, hiking trails, story-telling, cultural dancing, geology and gemstone trails. Paper-making is a new asset added to this list.

Projects within the protected areas are focused on raising the profile of, and  encouraging, eco-tourism in the area. Without sufficient visitors (and their corresponding financial contribution), the wildlife reserves will no longer be able to operate and the land will likely be turned back to subsistence farming. Residents will, therefore, not tolerate the protection of the biodiversity, which will ultimately lead to the demise of our animal heritage.

Project Beneficiaries

The main beneficiaries are the residents in the respective settlements around the reserves. The process involves mainly women who are responsible for the management of the facility. Approximately 15 breadwinners are involved in the production and sale of products benefitting approx. 35 dependants.

In addition to this, our schools programme involves some 200 school children who are engaged in becoming familiar with the production techniques of the project. This unique industry attracts visitors as well as commercial buyers, thus boosting other secondary incomes in the area. Conservation workshops complement this, and the entire community tourism industry directly or indirectly benefits through the development of the facility.

Project Objectives

To make elephant dung paper and market it for handcrafters, artists, novelty shops, decoupage manufacturing, stationary, and more.

To develop skills within the resident civil society and provide training for local people only, particularly women, and school children.

To promote tourism as an economic development stimulant for the tourism node sub-region of Lake Jozini. Information on biodiversity and tourism, with an amphitheatre for cultural events contributes to the achievement of these objective.

To transfer management and conservation skills as well as develop an understanding of the value of conservation of natural assets. Temporary foreign volunteers are a part of the education and training initiatives aimed at wildlife conservation. The projects is managed by trained personnel from the area.

Paper recycling

Another initiative at The Wildlife Spirit is our attempt to cleaning up the environment of rubbish paper and newspaper – and make useful paper bricks out of them.

We collect these papers from near and far nature areas as well as from local communities and schools.

With the help of our handy brick-maker, we are able to produce paper mâché bricks that can be used as fuel in ones fire.

Market Stalls

The main objective of this project is to create a multi-functional facility that directly benefits the surrounding communities through the creation of opportunities ranging from market stalls and the related agricultural activities. It creates a focus on conservation being the greatest asset to promote tourism in the sub-region.

Project Objectives

The objectives of this project are as follows:

Creation of economic opportunities for rural underdeveloped communities through selling handcrafted goods.

Promoting tourism as an economic development stimulant for the sub-region of Lake Jozini; creating an important information, biodiversity and tourism centre with an amphitheatre for cultural events, where information sessions for tourists are arranged, to contribute to the achievement of these objectives.

Transfer management and conservation skills as well as developing programmes that help previously disadvantaged communities, and the promotion of knowledge of important fauna and flora of South Africa.

Marketing of the complex to tourist operators and tourists in general, to ensure the flow of benefits to the local community.

All efforts are made to ensure that tourist buses from Mpumalanga-Swaziland-KwaZulu-Natal tourist routes will stop at the complex.

Environmental Focus of The Wildlife Spirit

The project area falls within the Maputaland Pondoland Albany Biodiversity Hotspot (see map).

The hotspot is the second richest floristic region in southern Africa (after the Cape Floristic Region) and also the second richest floristic region in Africa for its size. At a habitat level, one type of forest, three types of thickets, six types of bushveld and five types of grasslands…… are unique to the hotspot.

Paralleling the natural diversity, the cultural and socio-economic diversity of the region is incredibly high. Civil society here is dependent on the region’s natural resources for their livelihoods and well-being. During the last few years Conservation International facilitated the study of the biodiversity of the region and established the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) The Ecosystem Profile for the MPAH was developed through a process of stakeholder consultation and expert research studies coordinated by Conservation International’s Southern Africa Hotspots Program and the South African National Biodiversity Institute. More than 150 stakeholders from civil society, government and donor institutions were consulted during the preparation.

The CEPF Invited Space for Elephants Foundation to partner investment in this region as it is critical to stem the threats, balance human and natural needs, and conserve this unique part of the world.

The area will also serve as a centre for research for the Space for Elephant Foundation in order to protect this important species in the RSA fauna. The project will include the development of a Biodiversity Interpretive and education facility to engage the civil society and local government in the following low cost, unexplored existing opportunities from the biodiversity we aim to preserve. These are examples of why the project will be sustainable:

  • Hiking and Birding trails
  • Botanical trails and Geology trails
  • Cultural events
  • Indigenous meals prepared along these routes

Research opportunities for a variety of institutions based in a Biodiversity Hotspot of world significance.