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By Eric Micheletti

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Typically, these agreements make the lessee responsible for upkeep and maintenance of infrastructure, such as roads and tracks, bridges and jetties, as well as the operational infra­ structure, such as power and water supplies and sewage treatment systems at the lodges themselves. The agreements may also specify that members of specific local villages should have preferential access to employment opportunities, either in the lodge itself or for contract labour such as road maintenance and bridge repairs.

Tourists can hence be driven by experienced guides, in open‑topped safari vehicles, extremely close to large and potentially dangerous wildlife such as lion and leopard, even at night and even when they are hunting, mating or suckling young. The biological productivity of the area, and hence the density of large wildlife, is high; and the area is traversed by a large number of roads &Beyond and tracks, so it is relatively straightforward for the skilled game trackers at each of the lodges to locate individual animals each morning.

The total area of the conservancy is currently quoted as 230 km2 (&Beyond, 2010), presumably including both the contiguous titles and the leaseback area. The Phinda reserve contains a variety of different ecosystem types. Rarest of these in conservation terms (Gaugris and van Rooyen, 2008) is the patch of dry sand forest where Forest Lodge was built. The sand forest provides habitat for a number of rare plants, for smaller antelope such as suni and red duiker, and for rare birds such as Neergard’s sunbird and the lemon‑breasted canary (Barnes, 2000).

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