The re-introduction of safari game and the Big 5 to the Western Cape (buffalo, leopards, lion, elephants and rhino). Aquila is proud to have been the first game reserve to re-introduce the Big 5 (for the first time in 250 years, since they were shot out by colonial hunters).
2. Aquaculture / Aquaponics: Approximately 30,000 tilapia fish are based at ARC and Aquila. Aquila’s menu has been restructured to include these fish where possible. Our goal is to produce up to 6.5 tons of fish per annum, and to produce the ZAR1.7million worth of fruit, vegetables and fish that Aquila consumes annually, organically fertilized and on-site (reducing our carbon footprint). Excess tilapia are supplied to the soup kitchen in the Food for Litter campaign. The tilapia are organically fed. When slaughtered, 30% of the fish weight is waste which is used to feed the Biogas plant. The fish water is used in the aquaculture system to organically fertilize the greenhouse and tunnel crops.
3. Greenhouse: Cuttings, weeds and waste are used for compost. The greenhouses are situated in between restructured shipping containers, to maximize the usage and production with aquaponics, growth of the fish and fresh produce. Used cool drink and tinned food cans, cardboard and reclaimed wood have been used to make solar heaters to warm ARC’s aquaculture and greenhouse systems, in order to maintain optimum fish breeding temperatures of 26 degrees C during winter.
4. Biogas: Biogas provides heat and energy, obtained from slaughtered fish waste, elephant dung, horse manure and leftover meals (elephants and horses are based at Aquila) Biogas is low impact and reduces our carbon footprint further, as we are hoping to switch from electricity and purchased gas to full Biogas production in 2015. The system has been bought and installed at Aquila’s kitchen. 12,000 soup kitchen meals will be prepared using this system.
5. Vermiculture: The worm compost and tea are organic fertilisers for Aquila’s gardens, the veld regeneration project and the tunnels (soil rejuvenation). The earthworms eat cardboard, paper, fruit and vegetables and kitchen scraps. The earthworm farm has been manufactured out of recycled shipping containers. The fertilisers produced on site saves on fossil fuel, along with packaging and transport costs. The excess earthworm tea is sold in ARC’ shop for fundraising purposes. The earthworm tea is also used to supplement nutrients to ARC’s duckweed farm.
6. Duckweed farm: There are 50 duckweed containers. Duckweed is a free organic protein source, used as a low impact feed for ARC’s tilapia fish and ARC’s chickens. Generally, duckweed is uncontrollable, invasive and non-indigenous. Duckweed is removed from local dams in a conservation effort, and is grown in controlled environments (containers).
7. Chicken farm: Our goal is to produce a sustainable on site, low impact organic resource of “free” chicken and eggs for Aquila’s restaurant and soup kitchens. Chicken manure is added to the duckweed water as a nutrient supply.
8. Waste Management and Recycling:
a. The Food for Litter campaign: ARC has run a Food for Litter campaign that swops litter for soup kitchen meals for 400 children a day during most winter months.
b. Waste collected is recycled and sold where possible. To make the project sustainable, the proceeds are donated to a local school in order to fund much needed school teachers.
9. Veld Regeneration Project / Alien Vegetation Removal: Thousands of non-indigenous trees were cut down and used to build Aquila’s thatch roofs. 2,000 indigenous trees have been planted in the veld to increase the “carrying capacity” of the land. Approximately 100 edible to game trees are planted monthly. At any stage, several hundred trees are tended to and prepared for planting at ARC. Compost from Aquila’s restaurant, horses, elephants and earthworms are organically used to fertilise our trees. Aquila has for the past two years offered all visitors the opportunity to plant a tree in Africa as part of our Veld Regeneration Project.
Aquila has been responding to the need for sustainable tourism over the last few years, before it became a talking point. We believe in ensuring our carbon footprint is minimal whilst offering our guests an African safari experience.