The business is named after the winter Impala Lily (Adenium obesum) as testament to these gorgeous flowers that contribute to making the winter landscapes of Africa so colourful, as they play a big part in providing the inspiration for these handbags.
It is intentional, by using the name, to also draw attention to the plight of the summer Impala Lily (Adenium swazicum) which has become one of a growing number of Southern African plants that are critically endangered, so much so that this tree is now on the Threatened Or Protected Species (TOPS) list in South Africa.
Poaching has become an enormous problem in Southern Africa, not only with animals such as the rhino, but with various flora and fauna species too. If a species has a commercial value, then it is at risk of being poached.
The tuber of the summer Impala Lily has been used for many centuries by traditional African healers as a cure for all sorts of ailments. In its raw form the tuber is extremely poisonous. Once diluted however, the extracts are a popular treatment for purging the body and can be found in almost every traditional African medicine shop across South Africa.
Harvesting of the summer Impala Lily used to be sustainable but over the last hundred years or so harvesting has become progressively unsustainable. This is primarily due to a large reduction in the population of the wild trees as much of the natural habitat they once thrived in is now being used for agricultural purposes. As a result, only small pockets of summer Impala Lily trees remain, and it is these which are now being over harvested.
Also, because of the commercial value of the tuber, it is no longer just the African healers (Sangomas) who harvest the plants but commercial gatherers who do so in order to supply the medicine men, and once a supply is exhausted in one area they will just move on to another.
There is a very real risk that continued poaching could push the summer Impala Lily to the point of extinction which has greater implications than just losing the plant as there would be a consequential ecological impact on other species and on human beings who have long relied on its medicinal properties.
All is not lost however as the South African National Parks which provide a safe environment for a number of protected populations, constantly monitoring these to ensure poaching isn’t occurring, are also working in collaboration with the South Africa National Biodiversity Institute on a project that hopes to stop poaching by providing an alternative source of summer Impala Lily tree for commercial purposes while empowering local communities.