At the start of a new decade a new challenge has been spreading through South Africa. The Spekboom Challenge rose up from the increased awareness of the plants’ benefits and and South Africans are taking up the challenge of planting spekboom and sharing photos to social media along with the hashtag #spekboomchallenge.
Tintswalo Lapalala has joined the challenge aiming to champion the planting of spekboom (Portulacaria afra) within the pristine Lapalala Wilderness Reserve in the Waterberg (Limpopo).
The luxury tented lodge already operates off the grid, but to offset the carbon footprint of its safari vehicles and emergency generators, it has now started cultivating seedlings of these ‘super’ plants. To feed into the awareness of the project as well as to help guests understand Tinstwalo Lapalala’s dedication to the environment, information is shared and guests are encourage to participate in the planting of spekboom. Each person receives a cutting with the invitation to plant their own spekboom. Guests have the choice to plant their spekboom around the lodge, or elsewhere within the expansive reserve that stretches across 44 500 hectares of untouched wilderness.
The spekboom is indigenous to the Eastern Cape but is also found throughout the drier parts of South Africa. One hectare of this incredible plant can sequester between four and ten tonnes of carbon per year. This makes it a powerful tool in the fight against climate change and the move towards a zero-carbon world. The spekboom can live up to 200 years and can grow up to five metres tall. They are equipped with a unique mechanism to adapt to their surroundings and during drought periods the water-wise plant is able to conserve and prevent water loss during the heat of the day. Spekboom is very high in nutritional value with a delicious, juicy lemon taste that is a favourite food for black rhinos, kudus and elephants.
‘We have had a very good response and our guests just love this conservation initiative where the spekboom is specially packaged and presented to them as a farewell gift from Tintswalo Lapalala.’ Says lodge manager Tanja Jacobs. ‘We are a family-friendly lodge and children especially like getting their hands dirty and choosing a spot to plant their own seedling in the reserve. After spending time here in the wilderness they are inspired to leave with a greater understanding of the shared responsibility towards conservation and the small things we can do each day to help make our earth a healthier place.’
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[Tintswalo Lapalala #Spekboomchallenge]