Now more than ever Africa needs our help. With the income from tourism essentially closing down overnight, the protection of its people, wildlife and wilderness areas which rely so heavily on our revenue, are at threat and must have our support to survive.
You are no doubt aware that as travellers to Africa we often incur fees which go directly towards conservation and community efforts. These come in the form of park and conservation fees, community levies and so on. These funds protect the wild lands we visit and finance an extensive range of projects that give back to those who allow us access to their wonderful world. This gives a value to tourism and a reason for local communities to coexist peacefully with wildlife and preserve their natural environment.
At this difficult time, poachers are emboldened by the absence of travellers in these protected areas. The many eyes of safari enthusiasts and their guides have temporarily vanished, allowing free roam of these precious environments and all that resides within them. The temptation for those that are currently unemployed to venture down this illegal path can be all too great when the desperation to feed and care for their families takes over. Under normal circumstances, these people would be cheerfully serving drinks to you, or walking you back to your tent after dark. We all have fond memories and affection for those that we have met and who looked after us so well in Africa. It is also worth remembering that every camp or lodge staff member has around eight dependants – all of which need to be fed and watered, clothed, educated and given access to healthcare. We are hearing of schools and clinics shutting their doors as well as anti-poaching task forces being drastically cut back or struggling to operate with hugely reduced funds and resources.
With such incredible work having been done in Africa to rehabilitate and protect itself, we cannot see it begin to unravel before our very eyes. A continent that has enriched our lives and given us so much happiness through our travels and experiences now needs us to help them.
We have many excellent partners in numerous countries throughout East and Southern Africa. All of which contribute hugely to sustainable tourism in Africa, whether by supporting their local communities or leading on conservation initiatives to protect the unique area they operate in. Here we introduce you to just a few highly recommended initiatives, with links to more detailed information and the option to donate. The countries are listed below to assist you in navigating your way through the page and enable you to jump to those which may be more significant to you.
Please consider whether you are able to offer any assistance, a donation of any size to any recipient will be used to preserve wildlife and support communities, and will be very much appreciated. Thank you.
Offbeat Safaris, Masai Mara
As founding members of the Mara North Conservancy, Offbeat Safaris are raising support to help the Conservancy through this difficult time. Offbeat have set up their ‘Adopt a Plot’ campaign which is helping to fund the land leases so that the local communities will still receive the revenue despite there currently being not tourism contributions. These critical funds are paid to over 700 Maasai families and enable the management, maintenance and security of the Conservancy to continue. The long term success of the conservancies surrounding the Masai Mara Game Reserve, arguably Africa’s most impressive game-viewing area, is crucial to conservation efforts.
Kicheche Camps, Masai Mara
Kicheche are supporting the Conservancy Guardian appeal which aims to cover critical conservancy costs including rangers salaries, welfare and medical requirements as well as predator monitoring and patrol expenditure. The donations received will be matched , dollar for dollar, by the Band Foundation and shared between the Conservancies of Mara North, Olare Motorogi, Mara Naboisho and Ol Pejeta. There are two ways to contribute to the guardian appeal. The first is through their Kicheche Community Trust where you can donate a sum based on an acreage of land. The second is by prepaying a conservation contribution to them now (minimum of $750) and then you will receive a credit of the same value on a future Kicheche safari.
Lewa Wilderness & Lewa House, Lewa Conservancy
Both Lewa Wilderness and Lewa House are members of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy which works to protect its 62,000 acres of land, the wildlife that can be found there and its local communities. Tourism alone accounts for 22% of the Conservancy’s income and with travel suspended and a reduction in donations, Lewa expect to see a decline of over £2 million this year. It is because of this that they have scaled their projects back massively and are now focussing on just four essential tasks involving anti-poaching, women’s microloan schemes, health and education.
Ol Malo, Laikipia
Ol Malo support the Samburu Trust which runs much like a conservancy to preserve 1 million acres of Samburuland including its people, wildlife and environment. Operating entirely on donations and tourism, the Trust has had to scale down its efforts resulting in the closure of the school and clinic amongst other initiatives. Two vital projects remain in place during this time; medical emergency treatment (predominantly wounds and childbirth complications) and wildlife conservation involving constant elephant monitoring – when people lose their income, the threat of poaching is greatly increased.
Sarara, Mathews Range
The Sarara Foundation have set up a Network for Good initiative to help some 500 expectant/current mothers and 1500 children under the age of six years living in the Sarara Valley during this difficult time. Donations to the project are spent entirely on healthcare and education with the idea being that by looking after the people, they will in turn also be looking after their wildlife.
Alex Walker’s Serian, Serengeti National Park
Serian are working hard with the Frankfurt Zoological Society’s Serengeti De-Snaring Program with the aim of increasing funds to keep boots on the ground to deter poaching, protect our wildlife and keep their staff in employment. During this time, the program hopes to use some of their otherwise redundant camp staff with the skills and knowledge of the area to be present in threatened areas of the Serengeti. By doing this, the teams will continue to earn a salary and the wildlife remains protected until we begin to travel once again.
As well as this new project put in place due to Covid-19, Serian continue to support projects in Kenya such as the Mara Elephant Project, Mara Predator Conservation and the management of their own protected 4,000 Pusinkariak concession in the Mara.
Nomad Tanzania run excellent camps throughout Tanzania, found in the major wildlife hotspots of Tarangire, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti, Mahale Mountains, Katavi, Ruaha and Selous. They have launched two funds since the Covid-19 outbreak. The first is a relief fund set up with their ethos of caring for the needs of their people at the forefront and provides financial assistance to their team of staff, and their families, during this time. The second fund gives support to preferred third party community and conservation initiatives across the country. Areas throughout Tanzania that are close to the Nomad properties continue to need help to protect their natural environments, particularly in times like these when communities may well be more concerned about where the next meal is coming from.
Hoopoe Safaris, northern Tanzania
Hoopoe operate their tented camps in and around the Tarangire and Serengeti National Parks, and have always had a strong connection with the local communities. One of the main projects they support is the Honey Guide NGO which runs community-based conservation initiatives ranging from enterprise development and communications to human-wildlife conflict prevention and habitat protection over a vast 1.2 million acres of Tanzania. Their K9 unit is one program running in the protected areas of the parks which is seeing a large gap in the funding that it normally receives from its tourism partners such as Hoopoe. Being a huge protectorate of wildlife in these areas, if they have to pull K9 units out the doors will open to poachers who target elephant ivory and rhino horn.
Remote Africa Safaris, Luangwa Valley
John and Carol Coppinger have lived and raised their children in the Luangwa Valley, one of Africa’s most wonderful safari and wilderness areas. Their connection with the local community is deep and long-standing. Their company, Remote Africa Safaris, operates the Tafika Fund which supports a number of local educational and community upliftment initiatives. 5% of every bednight at their camps is donated to the Fund, as well as generous donations and student sponsorship opportunities, yet with no bednights currently this revenue is hugely depleted. Whilst Remote Africa Safaris are committed to funding a child’s schooling through to the end of their studies, the current situation has left them facing the possibility that, for the first time in their history, they will have to cease funding mid-way through and stop paying the salaries of extra teachers at the school.
Chiawa Safaris, Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa National Parks
Chiawa run superb camps in Lower Zambezi and South Luangwa National Parks and are key supporters of Conservation Lower Zambezi (CLZ) and Conservation South Luangwa (CSL). Whilst they continue support them as much as possible, with no income likely in their camps this season their donations are currently reduced at a time when more revenue than ever is required. Both organisations have seen huge reductions in funds which ordinarily go towards areas such as wildlife protection and reintroduction, research, education and community programs.
Shenton Safaris, South Luangwa National Park
Operating in the South Luangwa National Park, Shenton Safaris are also major supporters of CSL (Conservation South Luangwa). Shenton are well aware that if they were to focus only on keeping their business running and the welfare of their staff, that the wildlife will be lost due to increased poaching within the park. They are therefore continuing their efforts to fund and support the anti-poaching teams in their camps (despite being closed to guests and with a huge reduction in revenue) and are opening up the road networks in the northern sector of the park to enable rapid action response teams access to these areas.
Jeffery & McKeith Safaris, Kafue National Park
Operating in a remote section of Kafue National Park, the priorities of owners and conservationists Tyrone McKeith and Phil Jeffery are to secure the employment of their staff and the continuation of their ongoing conservation efforts to protect wildlife in the Kafue National Park through their Musekese Conservation (who have teamed up with UK based registered charity The Kafue Foundation). Whilst unable to employ their full team during this time, they are doing their best to ensure each receives a monthly amount to provide for their families.
Letaka Safaris, northern Botswana
During this time of hardship, which would normally be the start of the busy season in Botswana, Letaka Safaris are supporting the vulnerable communities which are close to the areas in which they operate by providing families with nutritious food parcels. When restrictions are eased and lockdown comes to an end, they also hope to open a soup kitchen style operation in these areas where incomes are so heavily reliant on the tourism industry.
Ker & Downey Botswana
Ker & Downey Botswana are long-standing supporters of Bana Ba Letsatsi (Children of the Sun). This Maun based NGO helps some 250 orphaned, at-risk and vulnerable children by providing them with much-needed food, clothing, education, counselling, medical attention, sports, arts and music activities. Under normal circumstances, as well as providing regular wildlife clubs, Ker & Downey make monthly contributions to the centre through a percentage of their safari sales. Currently with no guests visiting Botswana, vital revenue needed to support the welfare of so many children has been greatly diminished.
Great Plains Conservation, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Kenya
Due to the increased threat on the wildlife and livelihoods of those employed by tourism operators in Africa, the charitable arm of Great Plains Conservation, the Great Plains Foundation, has launched Project Ranger. By providing additional front-line conservation personnel, the project is supporting existing NGOs operating in areas which ordinarily rely heavily on tourism to safeguard their wildlife.
Turnstone Tours, Mundulea Nature Reserve
Over the past 20 years, Bruno and Kate Nebe have been working hard to restore 120 square kilometres of land in the heart of Namibia’s Karstveldt which had previously been degraded by cattle farming. A labour of love, they have painstakingly reinvigorated the area which is now a thriving, independently-run nature reserve and home to the plentiful wildlife which had previously inhabited it. As valuable income through tourism has dried up, they are faced with the reality that their life’s work is now at risk.