The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations says that wild meat possesses several added advantages over domesticated species in terms of range usage, physiological and ecological adaptations to the African environment, disease tolerance and productivity, crediting it among the healthiest meats available. This year as part of the annual Taste of Game campaign, the Oppenheimer Generations Research and Conservation team is taking Taste of Game to Zimbabwe, Victoria Falls on Africa Day, 25 May 2022.
Celebrating its second year, Taste of Game is an annual campaign that aims to profile game with the consumer, and encourage a greater demand for healthier, GMO-free, low-fat protein. One of the outcomes is that there is a significant amount of conservation work and management that needs to be undertaken to ensure healthy and sustainable sourcing.
Michelen Star Chef, Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen says, “Sustainability has become a buzzword but, I think people are trying to make a difference. Many chefs speak about sustainability and don’t practice it, but it’s our responsibility. One of my favourite quotes is from Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” because whatever we put in our body needs to be like medicine — it’s nourishment. That’s why Taste of Game is such a necessary initiative, it’s our responsibility to teach people about healthier and more sustainable foods.”
As means to highlight the role of wildlife and the wildmeat sector in Africa – this year, the African Wildlife Economy Institute (AWEI), together with Oppenheimer Generations Research and Conservation, Jan Hendrik van der Westhuizen and Shangani Holistic aim to support the development of an inclusive and sustainable venison sector in Africa that benefits both people and nature.
Max Makuvise, Resident Director, Shangani Holistic, “Whilst this is about Africa, I would like to speak on Shangani Holistic our home (Shangani Ranch in Zimbabwe). Our approach is simple, how do we work best with mother nature? At Shangani Holistic we have just under 8000 cattle living in harmony with elephant, giraffe, leopard, zebra, hyena, sable and many other animals in vast quantities.
Max further elaborates that, “On the wildlife side the animals were here before the humans, and we leave them to their own devices allowing them to roam freely around the ranch whilst we study their habits through our research department.
The Taste of Game event gives those attending an opportunity to travel back in time, when communities feasted on game meat out in the African open. It brings together both lovers and consumers of game meat, healthy eating enthusiasts and above all, chefs who put their skills to the utmost to give those attending an unforgettable, tasty experience.
“The game industry is diverse and has seen unprecedented growth, however, more could be done to mainstream the sustainable use of game in Africa. Taste of Game aims to profile game with the consumer, and encourage a greater demand for healthier, GMO-free, low-fat protein. The increased supply and demand of venison and participation in the sector – particularly from rural communities speaks to a future that will contribute to rural economic development, job creation, and food security”, says Dr Duncan MacFadyen, Head of Oppenheimer Generations Research and Conservation.
As part of their mission, the Oppenheimer Generations Research and Conservation team continues to build a first-class research entity which supports, funds and partners with international researchers to undertake and share cutting-edge research focused on the natural sciences ensuring practical and impactful outcomes. Through this continent-wide programme, they aim to create much needed impact in Africa.
Their partnership with the African Wildlife Economy Institute is creating a home for impactful research on the potential for wildlife economies across the continent to deliver inclusive and sustainable outcomes. Dr Francis Vorhies, the Director, explains that “The Institute is working closely with Oppenheimer Generations Research and Conservation to develop multidisciplinary thought leadership on wildlife economies. Developing a sustainable and inclusive game meat sector in Africa, for example, requires the inputs of business sciences, economics, law, and conservation ecology.”
Sustainable and inclusive wildlife economies are vitally important to Oppenheimer Generations Research and Conservation as these are critical to the future of wildlife conservation in Africa, however, there are areas where there is a lack of knowledge of what is required to enhance sustainable development and wildlife conservation across the continent. As a result, this partnership is investigating key research, influence, and engagement in wildlife economies, specifically in the wildmeat sector targeting decision-makers and ordinary citizens alike across the continent.
About Oppenheimer Generations Research and Conservation
The Oppenheimer Generations Research and Conservation team continue to build a first-class research entity which supports, funds and partners with national and international researchers to conduct cutting-edge research focused on the natural sciences ensuring practical and impactful outcomes. They are committed to further developing, expanding and promoting systems of sustainable conservation programmes and networks throughout the African continent.
About African Wildlife Economy Institute
Operating as a multidisciplinary think tank based at Stellenbosch University, the African Wildlife Economy Institute aims to enable wildlife economies to transform, enhance, and maintain African landscapes – i.e., complex socio-ecological systems that deliver biodiversity conservation, climate resilience, inclusive economic opportunities, and community well-being. It does this by generating and disseminating knowledge on wildlife economies, engaging stakeholders through dialogue and collaboration, and embedding sustainability through post-graduate and post-doc studies. leadership programmes, and practitioner courses.