- DISTINGUISHED PROFESSOR GRAHAM KERLEY, DIRECTOR, CENTRE FOR AFRICAN CONSERVATION ECOLOGY
Unusually for a game reserve, Mark and Sarah Tompkins specifically sought expert advice before buying land in the Karoo to ensure that the purchased land would be of significant conservation value. This strategic ecological approach led to the acquisition of eleven degraded livestock farms across a variety of vegetation biomes, topographies and ecosystem services, and we set about restoring the land to its former glory.
Our conservation ethic over the past 20 years has been guided by professional advice and conservation best-practice, working with a number of NGOs and government bodies such as SANParks. Since 1997, we have achieved a lot, with some notable successes. However, much more remains to be done to achieve Samara’s potential. Our vision is nothing less than a fully-restored Great Karoo ecosystem, a haven for endangered species, a purveyor of ecosystem services and a tool for social upliftment in this hauntingly beautiful land.
We see the land as a ‘living laboratory’ – a hub for learning about the Karoo environment, about Nature in general, and ultimately about ourselves. To this end we have set up an education programme with local schools and a Volunteer Programme. South Africa’s first Tracker Academy, a training division of the SA College for Tourism, was founded and is hosted at Samara. We have also entered into partnership with universities and research institutions from around the world in order to develop Samara’s potential as a site of learning and discovery.
- EDWARD O. WILSON, AMERICAN NATURALIST