The Big Five are at home here and many other species as well: the Thaba Tholo Game Farm in the South African province of Limpopo is a remarkable project in many respects. A professional team of gamekeepers, breeding experts and agricultural engineers work together with volunteers in the reserve to preserve endangered species. Rhinos, buffalo, antelopes, lions, impalas, wildebeests and numerous other species live on 37,000 hectares of land. In addition, the Thaba Tholo Farm has a large number of exemplary social projects, aid and health services that directly benefit the local population.
Thaba Tholo focuses on green energy and sustainability in all areas. The 750-kW solar field built by the South African energy project developer Telenetix is part of a specially constructed island network to ensure the electrical supply. Among other things, the Micro Grid is used to generate electricity for the company's own irrigation system in the extremely dry region. For the past four years it has hardly rained at all in the region, which is a three-hour drive from Johannesburg. Telenetix is Solar-Log's country partner in South Africa and is known, among other things, for large energy infrastructure projects that always rely on photovoltaics.
Solar-Log comes into play for the solar plant. The functionality of the large solar plant is reliably monitored by a Solar-Log 2000. Saving electricity permanently and keeping their own ecological footprint as small as possible - this is important to the Thaba Tholo team around Managing Director Rubin Els and General Director Wouter Maree.
All the equipment needed to operate the power generation system is stored in specially converted, refrigerated shipping containers on the wildlife farm premises. This extends the service life of the components, while at the same time safety considerations play a major role.
The Thaba Tholo Game Farm has been in existence for 30 years. In order to preserve the genetic diversity and the species richness, many specimens of individual species are kept in the reserve. The animals have sufficient space here and are only hunted in a narrow range in order to maintain the natural balance. However, hunting is also offered as a tourist attraction in the reserve. Lions, leopards, hyenas and other predators are responsible for a selection process without human intervention. "We at Thaba Tholo believe that the treasure of African wildlife should be shared by all who live on this continent," says Rubin Els.
The concept of the game farm is so successful that since 2008 there has been an annual auction where surplus animals are auctioned off to zoos and game parks. Last year, 223 animals were up for auction. Bids can be submitted worldwide via a corresponding app. The animals are in great demand: a few years ago an incredible 10 million Euros were paid for a breeding buffalo. The auction is an important building block for financing the work. Thaba Tholo lives from donations and the commitment of several wealthy families.
The efforts to preserve the native fauna are only a part of the blessed work of Thaba Tholo. The employees find good working conditions here. Outside the actual reserve there are four villages where they live with their families. In contrast to many other villages in the region, there is a reliable power and water supply here. Education of the children in these villages is very important to the management of the game farm. Thaba Tholo supports five schools in the region, which are open to children from all over the region. The employees contribute to their financing. More than 700 children go to school here. The Spitskop Special Needs School in Thabazimbi is the only school in the entire province that teaches children with Down syndrome, autism, epilepsy and developmental disorders.
The commitment of Thaba Tholo also extends to adult education. A literacy campaign for employees is one example. Employees also have access to preventive health care programs, which is anything but a matter of course in the region. By producing corn, soy, wheat and grasses as food supplements on its own farm, Thaba Tholo also contributes to the country's food security.