If you’re interested in investing in conservation in Africa, Pete Anderson may be the man to turn to…
ete Anderson was born into tourism. Literally. Growing up on one of the earliest wildlife tourism lodges – Sohebele – in the Timbavati Game Reserve, on the border of Kruger National Park in South Africa, he started his working life as a guide at Londolozi, a private game reserve within the Greater Kruger National Park.
By this time “my sights were set on a career in conservation,” Pete says. But it would be a few years before this dream came to fruition.
Aged just 20, Pete and his best friend and business partner, David Dunkley, started an overland safari business. Their 16-day safaris would take in the Victoria Falls, where the statue of Dr David Livingstone would, Pete says, “always inspire us”.
It was memories of this that led him to name a new enterprise after the renowned missionary and explorer, when in 1986, together with David, he founded Livingstone’s Supply Co, which provides hospitality products to safari companies.
It was the success of Livingstone’s that opened the door for Pete to set up Anderson Wildlife Properties (AWP) in 1993… and his long-held dream started to become a reality.
His first opportunity to work in the establishment of a large protected area was the Welgevonden Game Reserve in the Waterberg, a Rand Merchant Bank-funded initiative.
“It is now 20 years since its inception,” says Pete, “and a marginal farming area that provided 17 permanent jobs now protects all of the area’s historic biodiversity and has created more than 300 jobs, which in turn support around 3000 people.”
This is a prime example of how investment in conservation and tourism not only helps protect the wildlife and wild lands of the area, but also supports the local communities.
“My passion for extending conservation areas and sustainable models around maintaining them are what has driven me,” says Pete.
“Our philosophy is around sustainability. The protected areas that are already in existence, or new areas that are created, will not survive unless they are sustainable. With sustainability, many positive things flow – there is public access to protected areas, skills transfer, education and the interest to conserve and protect in the future.”
Peter, who is also a helicopter pilot and photographer, places great value on community partnerships to protect wildlife and wild lands.
“The first thing we do is to try and partner with people or organisations that share the same values,” he says. “We then try and find participants in these initiatives that share these values.
“We are currently working on an extraordinary project in the Waterberg called Lapalala Wilderness, a 45,000-hectare conservation legacy initiative. It includes a wilderness school that has hosted 70,000 students in its 30-year history.
“We are a keen supporter of Lapalala because we have seen the tremendous effect that this combination of environmental education and life skills training has on the youth attending the school.”
In addition to Lapalala and Welgevonden, Pete counts among his success stories: the establishment of Marakele Contractual National Park; a project to move white rhino into the Okavango Delta in Botswana; and Wilderness Safaris Pafuri, an initiative that established a partnership with the Makuleke community in the Pafuri region of the Kruger National Park.
To date AWP has successfully converted, secured and extended more than 300,000 hectares of wildlife land in southern Africa.
The company seeks to encourage people to become property owners in these areas and claims to “guide our clients into acquisitions of wildlife and conservation properties that create value and enjoyment”.
However, just turning up and establishing a protected area is not that simple. There is huge competition for land in Africa, with wildlife competing with the need for housing, agriculture, mining and the like. So, can conservation win out in this battle?
“There is enormous competition for land,” Pete affirms. “But the real gains for conservation are to be made in marginal farming land that can be converted back to what they were before man’s intervention.
“These areas [in their current form] are not sustainable, usually cover a considerable area and provide little or no benefit. But, when they are converted [to a protected, sustainable area], it is possible to create new jobs, provide transfer of skills and to protect and re-establish the original biodiversity.”
Becoming a property owner, says Pete, plays a vital part in contributing to the conservation effort in Africa.
“Becoming an owner of a protected area is a considerable responsibility,” he says. “One has to consider every aspect in seeing the return of land to what it was historically and by creating the right balance.
“If one is able to find the right balance and create the sustainability of a conservancy where the people and the environment benefit, it can be incredibly rewarding.”
If you’re interested in investing in a share of a conservancy in Africa, learn more at www.andersonwildlifeproperties.co.za