The Coexistence Gardens
Tanglewood Foundation is very proud to support and sponsor the Coexistence Gardens managed by Elephants Alive and the all-women Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit. This Elephants, Bees and Garden Project is upskilling and empowering woman with beekeeping, herbal medicinal and permaculture skills. The proof-of-concept initiative in South Africa makes use of biodiversity symbiosis to successfully deter elephants from rural communities and agricultural crops, by planting unpalatable crop gardens together with beehive fences.
It makes use of ecosystem services to supplement the Black Mambas income amid current food scarcity and continues to empower women as role models within their surrounding community, which makes perfect conservation sense. Teaching regenerative permaculture practices is crucial, now more than ever. The beehives, together with the unpalatable gardens, keep the elephants away from communities and their crops, preventing elephant-human conflict.
The first 2-day beekeeping (apiary) workshops have been completed, 100 beehives installed and continuously monitored to further practice beekeeping skills, together with a food garden which has already delivered 58 kg of fresh organic produce. A cultivated medicinal garden, which is used to treat local ailments, is a skill that has sadly diminished over time, and provides us with an indispensable link to passing on our precious past traditions. Our thanks go out to Anton Mzimba and Joel Sithole who showcased the various plants and their medicinal uses.
The gardens are watered by a specially designed and installed solar-powered water borehole sprinkling system (sponsored by TWF). The gardens will help with the production of essential oils, with Pelargonium capitatum (rose geranium) and Artemisia afra (wild wormwood) being the most recent essential oil plants introduced. After a very successful 2-day program with delegates from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), a passion for the possibility of essential oil production and small-scale business enterprises has been reinvigorated. With the harvesting season in full swing, the palatable garden is producing an abundance of various spinach, tomatoes, onions and other delicious fresh produce to supplement the rations of the all-female Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit.
Thanks to the brilliant tutelage of Sarah McSmith, Tinyiko Bosch and Collette Sithole, we have introduced the selling of frozen samoosas to the market. We look forward to presenting this, and other vegetable by-products to our local markets. Producing organic samoosas is another source of income, together with the “elephant friendly” bee products, which in the last year produced an amazing 227 honey of jars and over 30 honey products (lip balm, wax wraps and honey infused soaps). In addition, the honey is used as a natural antibiotic in all local snare wounds of both elephants and other wildlife. Honey has antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties, and is truly one of natures’ most unique and diverse gifts. There is a reason why it is named “Natures’ Gold”.
Elephants Alive Bees and Trees Research Project in Jejane Private Nature Reserve has turned 6 years old this year, providing us with fascinating data as to how effective African honeybees are at protecting highly favoured marula trees against elephant impact. The results show that beehives can decrease tree mortality by five-fold, versus trees with no protection.
Soon the construction of the packhouse will be starting, where a seedling house will be introduced to germinate key tree species, produce pottery products and house a small distillation plant. An abandoned reservoir will be used as the main structure of the
packhouse while environmentally friendly building methods such as rammed earth and eco-bricks will be introduced where possible. Although there is much work to be done before we can fully introduce this model into Mozambique, there is considerable excitement for all the possibilities that await.
The beautiful addition of the commemorative elephant memorial garden, continues to inspire us in our pursuit and dedication to achieve the dream of elephants living in harmony with local communities.
Supporting Elephants Alive and The Black Mambas is empowering, liberating and very inspiring for all the world to take note of, and emulate, to create a community and wildlife collaboration of working together to create a more sustainable future.