Today people want to travel with a purpose, and we want to do so responsibly
If the wildlife of Africa is to thrive for future generations to appreciate, it must be considered by the local communities to have value. In some of the poorest places on earth, where mere survival is a continual reality, this value will be judged not in romantic terms, but purely in financial worth. Quite simply, wild animals must pay their way.
Safari tourism plays a hugely important role in helping to preserve Africa’s wild habitats and creatures. Without tourists, the wildlife will quickly disappear. However, tourism needs to be properly managed, benefit the local communities and impact on the environment as little as possible. Read about what our partners in Africa are doing during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure the survival of their people, wildlife and land, and how you can help them.
Environmental and ethical principles should be taken into consideration when choosing destinations and accommodation. This is however extremely difficult for travellers to research and judge, which is why it is so important that you book your arrangements in Africa through a recognised Africa specialist that clearly demonstrates an understanding of and a commitment to Responsible Tourism.
At Safari Consultants, we are very aware that many of our travel partners within Africa are amongst world leaders in responsible tourism. We work with safari operators who promote sustainable tourism and are involved in community projects, health clinics, and rural schools, as well as in wildlife and habitat protection.
It is common these days for local communities to enjoy full or part-ownership of land set aside specifically for wildlife based tourism. In lots of areas, communities are compensated for loss of livestock through predation, and ex-poachers have turned a leaf and are employed as guides or game scouts. Many of the properties that we work with charge their guests a conservation or conservancy fee with these contributions going directly to the local communities and/or the management of the relevant protected areas.
More and more camps are relying on solar power, and efforts are being made to remove single use plastic use in camps and lodges, especially plastic water bottles.
Through necessity, Africa sets the standards which the rest of the world could do well to follow.
In addition to working closely with responsible companies who are forward-thinking in their operations, we at Safari Consultants actively support a number of community and conservation related initiatives too.
WHO WE SUPPORT
Rhinos Without Borders
African Bird Club
Elephants for Africa
The Maa Trust
Bana Ba LetSatasi
Born to Live Wild
Pack for a Purpose
Previously Supported Initiatives
We have sponsored students through secondary education in Kenya via the Loldia School Fund which involves a five year commitment for each student. For a number of years we also provided two bursaries per annum at Koiyaki Guiding School in Kenya’s Masai Mara to help uplift the local Maasai youth with education in the tourism industry and eco-friendly land management. We have been members of the South Luangwa Conservation Society in Zambia and have made monetary donations to them. We have also donated various ad hoc amounts to many other smaller projects as well as school books and equipment to the Olkimitare School in the Masai Mara, leaflets for Mandia Primary School in Zambia, football boots for a local team on Likomo Island in Lake Malawi, sponsoring overseas visits for African guides to gain international exposure and funding ranger training courses in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy, Masai Mara. Whilst we do not employ guides and porters directly, we are also supporters of, and encourage our suppliers to conform to the standard of practise laid down by the Kilimanjaro Porters Assistance Project.
It’s vital for that we recognise the impact our travel has on the environment, and take appropriate steps to reduce and mitigate this as much as possible. As part of our wider environmental strategy, we have selected ClimateCare to offset our carbon emissions with projects that improve lives and fight climate change.
Through supporting a variety of initiatives which deliver renewable energy, fuel efficient cookstoves, and water for carbon filters, we are working with ClimateCare to compensate for our client’s flight emissions through funding an equivalent carbon reduction elsewhere in the world. The high impact projects we are supporting include:
• Burn efficient cook stoves – Based in Nairobi, this project cuts carbon emissions and indoor air pollution by 50 and 60% respectively, delivering significant health benefits alongside cutting carbon. In addition, the project is promoting gender equality; the project has trained and employed 200 local people, of which over half are women.
• LifeStraw – Based in Western Kenya, this is one of the largest climate and clean water projects globally; 877,505 families use LifeStraw Family water filters to purify water in their home, rather than boiling water for drinking over open fires, cutting 2.4m tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.
• Gyapa Stoves, Ghana: Similar to Burn, this project distributes clean cookstoves across Accra, Ghana’s capital. The project has created livelihoods for local crafstman and entrepreneurs through the production and sale of the artisanal stoves.
• Grid Scale Renewable Energy – costs effective, with far reaching impacts these projects provide life changing and sustainable electricity to entire regions of India.
SUPPORTING TRANSFRONTIER CONSERVATION AREAS
There are currently 7 Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCA) in Southern Africa, with the best known being the KAZA TFCA. This initiative is led by the governments of the five partner countries that make up this region – Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Angola. Its mission is “To sustainably manage the Kavango Zambezi ecosystem, its heritage and cultural resources based on best conservation and tourism models for the socio-economic well-being of the communities.” The focus is on conservation and sustainable rural development. A treaty was signed to this effect and financial support secured – the largest supporter to date is the German Government.
At Safari Consultants, we have been promoting this area for a number of years, with carefully crafted itineraries that often combine the different countries (with the exception of Angola). Hwange, Victoria Falls, Zambezi, Mosi au Tunya, Chobe, Caprivi, Linyanti and Okavango form the core of this KAZA region, with many incredible highlights to experience. However KAZA is huge, and comprises a mosaic of land uses, with 36 formally proclaimed national parks and numerous other protected areas and communal lands. The amount of flora and fauna is outstanding, home to nearly 75% of southern Africa’s elephants, 24% of the world’s remaining endangered wild dog and around 600 bird species. But there is more to experiencing KAZA than conventional safari activities and wildlife encounters on game drives, bush walks and boat excursions. There are numerous rewarding experiences through engaging with the community, culture and conservation of KAZA. By supporting such itineraries, we are assisting with KAZA’s objectives to manage the Kavango-Zambezi ecosystem by putting into practice sustainable tourism and conservation models, while at the same time providing economic opportunities and upliftment to local communities. This often involves mitigation of human-wildlife conflict, especially in Wildlife Dispersal Areas (WDAs). Wildlife Dispersal Areas have been identified as a priority in KAZA’s Integrated Management Plan, as they facilitate free movement of animals, and elephant are known to migrate between Chobe National Park and neighbouring countries for example.
There are numerous innovative examples of how this mitigation of human-wildlife conflict is being done, such as building lion-proof cattle kraals and enlisting local communities to be wildlife guardians in return for financial benefits. Such projects are intrinsically linked to KAZA’s efforts to facilitate free movement of animals along six identified WDA corridors, allowing wildlife to follow their instinct to migrate across great distances, irrespective of country borders.
We are very aware that without the committed protection of Africa’s wildlife by anti poaching units, there would be no safari tourism, and the natural ecology and local economy would collapse. Transboundary law enforcement operations are also being undertaken and are set to increase as part of KAZA’s ongoing efforts to harmonise and strengthen collaboration. Anti-poaching is absolutely critical for KAZA. In the Victoria Falls area, more than 850 poachers have been arrested and over 22000 snares have been removed. In the Sebungwe region of Lake Kariba, ivory poaching has all but ceased due to concerted anti-poaching efforts, after the loss of 11000 elephants (75% of the local population) since 2006.
Tourism is essential to the wildlife economy in KAZA and directly contributes to these praiseworthy custodians of Africa’s wildlife. At Safari Consultants we will continue to support sustainable tourism to such areas, whilst at the same time providing incredible holiday experiences.
What we do at home
Our commitment to responsible tourism in Africa does not absolve our environmental efforts at home in the UK. We have an in-house green travel policy for our staff, in the office we use low energy light bulbs and our electricity supply is derived 100% from green/renewable resources through our supplier, Ecotricity. We also have recycling schemes in place and our milk is supplied in glass bottles to avoid single use plastic. Our stationery is from managed resources and we print only as much of our general information as required and do so double-sided or on single sided waste paper too. Some staff members have even purchased their bikes from Re-Cycle who donate unwanted bikes rural communities in West Africa. Based near our office in Suffolk, Re-Cycle also hold a monthly sale for the small number of bikes that are not suitable for the African landscape. We are members of The Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) who actively promote sustainable tourism practices.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
We believe that visiting the bush is like visiting someone’s home and as the visitor, by showing respect you are more likely to be respected in return. There are certain common courtesies that should be adhered to and will not only make your safari more enjoyable, but will also have a more positive impact on the environment and its inhabitants.
Some responsible tourism travel tips to remember:
- Respect the environment and respect local cultures. It is also a good idea to familiarise yourself with the local culture, politics, beliefs and etiquette. By learning a few words in the native language, such as hello, goodbye and thank you, you are showing respect and this will help you to build a rapport with those around you.
- Be as unobtrusive as possible; wear the correct coloured clothing whilst walking in the bush and avoid dressing or acting in a way which might cause offence to local residents.
- Eco friendly toiletries which are free of chemicals and have biodegradable packaging are recommended for use where possible. You will find that a number of properties do supply these sorts of amenities for use during your stay.
- Water supplies are scarce in many destinations. Please use water sparingly whilst abroad. You will find a good number of properties will offer you branded re-usable water bottles to use during your stay and take home with you. If you have been given a bottle from your first camp, we would advise you to keep hold of this for the duration of your safari to avoid collecting, and subsequently leaving behind, various bottles. It is quite alright to turn down the offer of additional bottles to avoid waste.
- Do not litter. Everything you carry in you must carry out. Aside from the environmental damage, litter can be harmful to the wildlife. Waste disposal can be difficult in remote areas and recycling is often not possible.
Please think about what you really need to take and remove all packaging before you travel, the less rubbish left behind the better.
- Do not interfere with the wildlife and habitat by:
- Encouraging your guide to take you too close to animals at sightings and putting both under pressure
- Encouraging your driver to depart from the usual track travel off road
- Picking plants and flowers
- Making noises to attract or frighten the wildlife
- Be as quiet as you can at all times and do not be afraid of the animals. Even the biggest will move quietly away if given the opportunity. Obey all game laws and regulations, respect the fact that your guide is bound by these laws and regulations too.
- Do not buy, or trade for, any articles, which are covered under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) including ivory, turtle products, rhino horn, furs, butterflies and plant species.
- Buy locally crafted souvenirs and if bartering over the price don’t drive too hard a bargain. An amount which may be fairly insignificant to you, can represent a lot more to others.
- Do not give any gifts, even sweets, directly to children you may pass on the street as it can encourage begging and may undermine parental authority. It is more appropriate to give through a local organisation.
- Be courteous and ask before you take a photograph of someone as many people do not like having their picture taken. If they ask you to pay then we would discourage you from taking the picture.
- Report any poor behaviour of guides/safari staff immediately to the management of the property and to us on your return.
If you are heading off to see the major primate species, such as the rare mountain gorilla and chimpanzee, further courtesies should be adhered to. To minimise possible transmission of human diseases, visitors are asked to maintain a distance of usually seven metres from the gorillas. You will not be permitted to track if you are suffering from any illness including a cold or flu which can be transmitted to the apes. You will be asked to declare this before you start off. We would ask your co-operation in not endangering the lives of the already endangered great apes. Other regulations include:
- Spitting in the parks is strictly prohibited.
- Should you need to cough, cover your mouth and turn away from the gorillas.
- When with the gorillas, keep your voice low.
- Try not to make rapid movements that may alarm the gorillas. If a gorilla should charge or vocalise at you, do not be afraid, stand still, look away from the gorilla and follow your guide’s directions.
- Flash photography is not permitted.