THE HISTORY OF INKWENKWEZI PRIVATE GAME RESERVE
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Photo's can be seen of Tour busses visiting Inkwenkwezi!
Inkwenkwezi, which translates from Xhosa to mean “under the stars”, grew out of a dream of the Umtata born Stanton brothers, Graham and Keith. Graham and Keith hail from farming stock from the Umtata area and, after completing their schooling at Umtata High School, started a dairy business - distributing milk and supplying vegetables and produce to local traders.
In 1976, Keith re-located to take up a position in industry in Johannesburg.
Graham moved to the Cintsa Valley area in 1983 and purchased the first property from the Bird family, called “Happy Homes”. Although the brothers nurtured the dream of a game reserve, Mr Bird only sold them the farm on the condition that it was to be developed as a game farm.
On the original farm, the brothers began researching various types of fencing and game stock to establish what would best suit the area and the reserve they were planning. They then began purchasing neighbouring farms, some which had been in families since the late 1890’s and today have purchased 29 properties with a total area of 4,000 Hectares.
This Cintsa Valley land was mostly uncultivated and is rich in natural fauna and flora including some rare cycads species only found in the Eastern Cape. It is prolific in natural indigenous bush, aloes, has five of the biomes in the Eastern Cape, abundant bird life including the Stanley Bustard and Rare Ground Hornbill amongst the 180 identified species as recorded by Neil Smith, local ornithologist.
Fencing of the reserve was started in 1983 and today two-thirds of the Reserve is fenced with the other one-third due to the fenced off by the end of the year.
There is ongoing program of eradication of invasive plants but the Wildlife and Environmental Society, under the auspices of Avril Wilkinson, will be starting a Research Project, which will involve new concepts with invasive plants versus indigenous.
Over the years, stocking of the game park has resulted in there being over 40 species of game, such as buffalo, rhino, lion and evidence and sightings (by adjacent farmers) of leopard which have been encouraged by the buck/game to return to the area.
This reserve boasts the big five but in fact if one considers the uniqueness of the reserve being adjacent to the coast and the possibility of spotting the Southern Wright Whale, it would be the big six!
Inkwenkwezi Private Game Reserve has become a catalyst for employment in the area, having started with 10 people and now employing 80 with the numbers set to grow as the reserve develops further.
During construction, only local companies, including builders, carpenters etc were contracted with both skilled and unskilled labour being provided by the local communities.
To further encourage local employment, crafters will be encouraged to provide the Curio Shop with locally crafted items.
Inkwenkwezi is ideally situated on the East Coast only 40 minute drive from the National Airport.
Over the past year, Inkwenkwezi has begun to position itself as a popular destination for both local and International tourists. The function facilities are well used by local corporate companies. The historic re-introduction of the lions and elephants has further positioned Inkwenkwezi as one of the top Private Game Reserves in the Eastern Cape.