“Our key corporate social investment focus areas are community upliftment, education development and conservation,” says David Polkinghorne, CEO of Grindrod Bank. “Within these priority focus areas, we support specific projects that resonate with our customers and business. Conservation has always been a cause closely linked to our business as a number of our clients are wildlife NGOs. We feel that BirdLife South Africa, as a reputable NGO with a long history in conservation, was a clear fit and we’re proud to support their important projects.”
As a business leader in KwaZulu-Natal, Grindrod Bank is hoping to lead other KwaZulu-Natal businesses and individuals to take up this cause. “KwaZulu-Natal has a rich history in leading conservation initiatives, and many important conservation areas. It’s up to us to ensure that we support BirdLife South Africa’s important bird and habitat conservation initiatives in KwaZulu-Natal, so that the province can enjoy the same level of patronage as Gauteng and the Western Cape in preserving our natural heritage,” says Polkinghorne.
BirdLife South Africa promotes the enjoyment, conservation, study and understanding of wild birds and their habitats. South Africa supports eight biomes and 844 bird species, of which 74 of which are endemic or near-endemic and thus found nowhere else in the world. BirdLife South Africa has a number of successful projects to maintain and, where possible, improve the conservation status of all bird species.
“In order to achieve our goals, we rely on funding from people and companies like Grindrod Bank who are committed to this important cause,” says Mark Anderson, CEO of BirdLife South Africa. “By joining the BirdLife South Africa family, Grindrod Bank will be able to access our expertise and skills in conservation, sustainability and environmental planning. All our corporate members have our commitment to working with them to add value to business and biodiversity.”
Grindrod Bank funds have been allocated to the preservation of vulnerable vulture colonies in the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park. As part of the education process, staff were invited to view these birds of prey and learn more about the threats to the species.
One of the BirdLife South Africa projects the funds will support is the Important Bird Areas (IBA) Programme, which includes a KwaZulu-Natal Regional IBA Conservation position. “South Africa has 124 IBAs, but many are not formally protected,” says Anderson. “The IBA Programme is critical for the future of our country’s birds, and through the Biodiversity Stewardship Programme landowners are conserving critical bird habitat in KZN and elsewhere in South Africa. The IBA Programme will ensure the conservation of a network of sites critical for the long-term survival of bird species that are globally threatened, have a restricted range, are restricted to specific biomes/vegetation type or have significant populations of a particular bird.”
Further to BirdLife South Africa support, Grindrod Bank is supporting rhino conservation and has been working with Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife on educational initiatives in conservation. The bank is also a key sponsor of the Zululand Rhino Adventure Ride mountain bike event taking place in the Zululand Rhino Reserve in mid September.
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