2014 has been a year that we have creatively questioned our self-reliance as a community of bush-dwellers. As we step into the future, how do we become more self-reliant? How do we begin to build what many futurists are referring to as a “bottom-up”, decentralised approach to how we function as a community?

Many of our experiments have started on Google: how to build and maintain a beehive or, how to design optimal community gardens, and how to use food waste to create compost for those gardens. Others are part of more long-term visions, such as our determination to reduce diesel consumption and create zero-emission vehicles.

Below are three of the “ecolutionary” projects that – as a team – we are proud to report back on in 2014. They form part of a vision of continually improving our sustainability and reducing our footprint. Perhaps more importantly, they form part of a vision for Londolozi to function as a model 21st-century, sustainable micro-community.

Solar: Using Sustainable, Clean Energy to Power Londolozi

A solar power trial is currently underway in the Londolozi staff village. By the end of April, a third of our on-site staff members will be using solar-heated water

A solar geyser in the Londolozi village. This is one of two village solar geysers that power hot water for more than 80 staff members.

In 2014, a solar geyser became operational at Pioneer Camp and two solar geysers in the village now supply hot water to more than 80 staff members. With many advances in solar technology, water can be heated directly by the sun to create hot water. In a climate like ours, this project has been a no-brainer and we are set to go completely solar for water heating in the next few years.

Leopard 2: Stepping into the Future

All Terrain Electric Research Vehicle Land Rover

Leopard 2 showing off its exceptional abilities in the Sand River.

In a recent video Dave Varty said visitors to Londolozi will soon be able to experience safaris in a zero-emission Land Rover “free of the sound of an engine.” Dave was referring to prototype five of the electric Land Rover, dubbed Leopard 2, and currently being tested here at Londolozi. Many people do not know that prototype one – which included more than twenty batteries packed under the seats – was built and customised by our General Manager, Christopher Kane-Berman, together with a dedicated team in the Londolozi workshop. According to Chris (a self-confessed petrol-head and now “electric-head”), after years of trial and error, we are now a heartbeat away from a fully functioning all-terrain electric Land Rover.

If you missed the Leopard 2 video, I would recommend it. Released recently, it captures the spirit of “ecolutionary” change that has gathered momentum at Londolozi in 2014.

Guerilla Gardening: From Community to Kitchen


Anna on her way back to the kitchen after harvesting vegetables from Chris Goodman’s garden.

One of this year’s earliest blog posts referenced the fact that we are experimenting with Ron Finley’s concept of guerilla gardening, born in the urban landscape of Los Angeles. Here is an excerpt from that blog:

“The success of a garden is a goal shared by the entire neighbourhood. But that goal leads to other goals. Suddenly there is less junk and litter lying around. A couple of people start thinking about reducing electricity usage. There is an upsurge in recycling. In general there is a shared eco-consciousness that takes root.”

Today we have more than ten pop-up gardens, and Anna Ridgewell, our Executive Chef, uses the fresh produce in Londolozi’s kitchen. In the spirit of the exercise though, much of the produce is harvested, traded, and shared in the village, creating a micro food-economy that is both communal and sustainable. In addition, our community has begun the tradition of a shared walk through the village every Sunday. As a group we share in the responsibility of collecting litter, turning off taps, and observing the work done in the gardens.

What do you think should be next?

As we move into 2015 and a more community-conscious future, if you would like to share innovations or technologies that you think our micro-community could benefit from, please let us know in the comments section below.

About the Author

Ryan James


I am the Head of Development at Londolozi's not-for-profit partner organisation, the Good Work Foundation (GWF). GWF focuses on education, in particular helping people living in rural areas to connect to a new, digital Africa and all of its opportunities.

View Ryan's profile


on 3 “Ecolutionary” Innovations of 2014

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Ian Hall

I saw the Land Rover being driven towards Londolozi as I was leaving, I hope the Ellies aren’t spooked by a silent Land Rover.
I would love to read more about the gardens and just how you prevent them from being dug up by Impala etc.
Only in Londolozi could herbivores become predators…


We have got some pretty sturdy cages Ian 🙂

Ian Hall

Thank you, next time I come I look forward to seeing them.

Kate Collins

It’s been a great year for eco-developments at the reserve. Looking forward to many more of these innovations!

Jill Grady

Interesting blog Ryan, and thank you for keeping us updated on all of the exciting developments at Londolozi. I think Londolozi could be a model for the rest of the world on minimizing our carbon footprint on the environment. You are constantly coming up with amazing and creative ways to lesson the impact on this very beautiful world and it is, and should be, an inspiration to the rest of us, to constantly be thinking of ways as well. If we all work together, we can preserve the beauty of the Earth for all its creatures and for generations to come. Thank you to everyone at Londolozi, for inspiring us all.

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