Hotel groups put cash into conservation

Bay’s Mantis and French partner start fund to support Africa wildlife projects

Big business, including a leading Port Elizabeth hospitality group, is poised to bolster the Big Five through rural communities across Africa with the creation of a $600 000 (R7.5-million) fund which will support three internationally renowned conservation organisations.

The Community Conservation Fund Africa was formalised with the $600 000 seed funding this week.

This comes just six weeks after the formation of a groundbreaking partnership between the Bay’s Mantis Group and France’s world-leading travel and lifestyle group AccorHotels.

Paris-based AccorHotels and Mantis – which founded the renowned Shamwari Game Reserve and is the only hospitality group with offerings on all seven continents – announced the partnership at a launch event held at The Tramways building in Port Elizabeth last month.

The partnership saw conservation-minded AccorHotels acquiring a 50% stake in equally conservation-centric Mantis, with the formation of the new fund forming a central point in the relationship.

The fund is set to support the work of the globally respected Port Elizabeth-based Wilderness Foundation, along with the Tusks Trust and African Parks.

Dr Andrew Muir, chief executive of Wilderness Foundation Global and spokesman for the conservation fund, said pilot seed-funding of $600 000 for year one had been donated by Mantis and AccorHotels.

“This seed funding will be used to support projects across Africa through the three arms of the fund,” he said.

The fund was officially launched during the Conservation Lab conference, which took place at Spier, near Stellenbosch, late last week.
Two awards were announced at the fund’s launch – one went to African conservation leaders to enable their participation in the Conservation Lab.

In addition, $25 000 (R314 000) was awarded to The Mahenye Community Conservancy for conservation work in Zimbabwe via the Tusk Trust.

Mantis founder and chairman Adrian Gardiner said: “The Community Conservation Fund Africa will amplify both Mantis and AccorHotels’ commitment towards halting the accelerating decline of Africa’s wildlife and brings together three internationally renowned conservation organisations – Wilderness Foundation, Tusk Trust and African Parks.”

Pointing to the commonalities between the two businesses, Gardiner said earlier that both operated global hospitality networks offering rare and unique experiences, and both had a focus on conservation and community upliftment.

“This partnership allows Mantis to utilise AccorHotels’ distribution channels and worldwide reach to further develop the hospitality concepts and sustainability projects we have worked so tirelessly to grow,” he said.

“The Community Conservation Fund Africa is an exciting new initiative for both Mantis and Accor Hotels.

“Conservation in Africa needs all the help it can garner and we are proud to celebrate our new partnership with the establishment of this fund.”

AccorHotels Middle East and Africa chief executive Olivier Granet said: “Mantis has well-established credentials in the conservation and sustainability arena given the commitment of Adrian Gardiner and his work with worldleading environmentalists throughout the years, including Dr Andrew Muir from the Wilderness Foundation.

“Our partnership with Mantis will provide AccorHotels with a robust platform to expand Planet 21, the group’s global conservation and sustainability programme, throughout Africa.

“It is within the spirit of this unique collaboration that we have provided much-needed funding to launch wildlife preservation initiatives and to be part of the transformation in Africa which we aim to do through the Community Conservation Fund,” he said.