Our highly-skilled support team devise strategies and tactics in sync with specific goals to enable smooth processes that determine our overall success levels. Notwithstanding the emergence of other external factors, we are able to work our way around the clock to ensure all our venues remain in sound structural order, maintain acceptable levels of revenue annually and commit to continually increasing profitability. Investing time and energies into identifying poor performance and trouble shooting is equally important. This area demands the largest percentage of our energies.
The team engage in lively brainstorming sessions during which they mind map ideas for dealing with specific situations. These processes are usually extensive and draining but the end result is one that has evidently brought a different dimension to commercial operations at EKZNW. Dube is dedicated to managing the protected areas around KwaZulu-Natal alongside his team. He says: “Given the poor state of many protected areas and the pressures they face, EKZNW is developing relevant management plans to ensure that its protected areas fulfil their intended mandate as a refuge for wildlife. “Ecological integrity in protected areas is changing therefore identifying new or potential threats to local species so that it can react in an appropriate and timely manner is an endeavour we continue to explore. Moreover, EKZNW is currently operating with out-dated management plans for many of its protected areas, and its recent assessment showed that most of the national wildlife areas do not have adequate management plans.
Ezemvelo continues to develop policies that make best use of available resources. A consistent, proportionate, transparent, targeted and accountable approach to policy development is being entrenched so that stakeholders and the public can understand why policy decisions have been made. To sum it up, EKZNW has gone to great lengths to ensure wildlife management policies deliver proportionate, effective and humane solutions. “Chief among these solutions would be to ensure that the public is made aware of the impacts of environmental degradation and the importance of wildlife conservation. Without the aforementioned plans and policy reviews the relevance of our organisation diminishes. Indirectly, my jobs entail the oversight of all business operations in mitigating instances which could disregard our useful role. Dube explains that a plan is in place to leverage on ecotourism to generate profit but without compromising environmental integrity.
“At EKZNW our priorities are clearly defined, however, we enjoy the creativity and flexibility to continuously explore various trends that have a profitable trickledown effect, particularly in ecotourism. By definition, ecotourism should be understood as the ‘responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people.’ With that definition exposed, it can then be deduced that leveraging on ecotourism becomes a business venture which should reap financial benefits and continue to be profitable. Local people being our beneficiaries, and sustainability being our critical offshoot, the Business Development Unit is required to raise revenue from accommodation at our resorts, concessions, from guest activities in protected areas, resale facilities, and natural resource trade.
Because ecotourism puts emphasis on taking advantage of the bequeathed ecological heritage it is also important to market and advertise EKZNW’s reserves. Through establishing Public Private Partnerships and socio-economic contributions in the form of leases, joint ventures, outsourcing and community levies fund the sustainability of our ventures are realised. Dube points out: “Most importantly, EKZNW does not engage in commercial activities that are driven by profit without taking into account the environmental aspect of such activities. Embedded in all our activities is the philosophy which puts conservation before profit. This permits us to build environmental awareness, provide direct financial benefits for conservation, provide financial benefits and empowerment for local people and respect their culture, and support human rights and demographic movements.
“Business is a major driver of socio-economic impact and socio economic impact in turn is a major predictor of business success, especially in the long term,” says Dube. “Though Ezemvelo’s operations are not strictly profit driven we have commercial operations that require sustainable best practices to ensure their viability. “One of Ezemvelo’s major challenges is to supplement the funding received from government by revitalising its commercial operations. In the light of this, we have adopted a business centric approach to business development endeavours with a keen focus on return on investment. In an attempt to harness and benefit from private sector expertise and financial resources, we are in the process of formulating a PPP strategy that will see symbiotic partnerships develop in order to establish viable business development.
“Our main objective is to conserve nature and so the realm of commercial operations is mainly to supplement the operational subsidy we receive. One of the possible projects in this regard is exploring the viability of redeveloping the Royal Natal Hotel in the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site. A number of other eco-tourism partnerships with local communities are also on the cards and will be implemented once a viable an mutually beneficial model is developed,” Dube concludes.
Core Strategic Goals
To improve the state of biodiversity in KwaZulu-Natal for the benefit of the people
To provide quality conservation and ecotourism service delivery by being a well resourced entity, through improving financial sustainability of Ezemvelo
To be an efficient, transparent, honest and accountable public entity with good governance by improving organisational performance
To be the employer of choice through creating decent work and sustainable livelihoods, by improving organisational health
Responding to Management Challenges
“In the realm of conservation it is pivotal to adopt unconventional ways of ensuring profitability while observing the ultimate goal which is to maintain and keep the natural ecosystems in their natural form,” explains Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s Business Development manager, Thabiso Dube.
“This, however, has its own challenges in that players are required to negotiate their way around various pieces of legislation which advocate for the protection of natural ecosystems with its flora and fauna. As Business Development Manager, my job entails navigating through legislation while ensuring that our various commercial operations are viable, sustainable and noticeably profitable. This means inculcating innovative approaches to profitability, starting with the planning aspect.
by Ilse Ferreira