The biggest priority of Lalibela is conservation – our goal is to conserve the essence of Africa, every insect, leaf and animal.

The Big Five and well-loved wildlife are often at the forefront of the conservation cause, but we believe that every part of our eco-system is worth looking after. In fact, without the plants and trees, there wouldn’t be any wildlife at all.

Alien trees are a big problem when it comes to trying to preserve the natural habitat and plant life of the South African environment. Driving through our reserve, you might spot thickets of tall trees, mini forests dotted throughout, and in most cases, trees are a good thing. The more trees the better – but these little forests we have at Lalibela are made up of the wattle tree. Originally brought into South Africa from Australia for their good timber, these trees have dominated the indigenous landscape.

“They soak up all the nutrients in the soil and block out all the sunlight from the sky”

Peter, Senior Ranger

Walking into one of these forests is an eerie experience, the wildflowers and long grasses are replaced by dry soil and tall trees. It doesn’t feel like rest of the reserve, teeming with life and movement, it is quiet and still.

This is why we introduced our programme to remove all alien plants on the reserve. It’s an ongoing process that requires persistence and constant work, but we’re passionate about our reserve and creating a purely indigenous habitat for our wildlife.

“My life’s purpose is to remove the alien trees. Every leave, branch and root. Until there are no more left ”

Ticha, Ranger

So how do we do it? The trees are cut down in rows and then burned. This is to ensure that they don’t continue to spread their seeds and grow in new places. And it’s not just the wattle trees, it’s all the small plants too. We are committed to creating a purely indigenous, 100% South African game reserve.

You’ll see these clearings throughout the reserve, and at first it seems counterproductive, but you’ll notice the little bits of life starting to appear where the trees once stood. It’s a lovely reminder that nature always prevails and even the smallest of efforts, if consistent, make a difference.

In search of more reading? Here’s South Africa’s Eco Warrior – The Spekboom!