Responsible Tourism, How & Where (Part 2)
PART 2: WILD
Knowing what responsible tourism is can be a mine field of contrasting views and can often be extremely complex. So how can travellers know how to travel and to where?
We complete our 2-part blog by following up on last weeks focus on captive facilities, by looking at Africa’s wild areas.
Whilst last weeks’ blog covered captive animal facilities, which as we see can often involves vast amounts of exploitation and animal cruelty for profit (not conservation), this weeks’ look at Africa’s wild areas is different – yet still requires understanding of what being responsible actually involves.
Supporting Africa’s wild spaces is one of the most important,
best things a tourist can do for the protection of wildlife.
Let’s admit this straight away… going on safari is so much fun! It allows us to enjoy wilderness and nature, to appreciate wild animals in their own natural habitat and enjoy the epic beauty that our planet displays. We’ve all watched David Attenborough programmes and been inspired to both enjoy & care for our planet – we must and we can do so much more to ensure we protect nature and wildlife for generations to come.
One area of course, which can have a truly great impact for the planet and wildlife, is tourism and going on safari. Here’s how;
Ask yourself the following questions before travelling;
- Is my visiting contributing to any wildlife conservation efforts, local employment, local community, green energy or other benefit?
- Does the tour operator I’m booking with demonstrate messages of conservation or environmentalism such as green energy?
If the answer is yes to both of the above questions, then chances are that simply by travelling, you will greatly benefit the destination you’re travelling to.
Book a Safari with a Responsible Tour Operator
We’re blowing our own trumpet we know, but this point cannot be overstated (whoever you choose to travel with). A responsible tour operator will not only offer you expert advise and guidance in arranging your African travel and accommodation, they will also understand the industry and be passionate about ensuring wildlife is protected and local people benefit from tourism.
Responsible tour operators demonstrate that they care about the issues we face, such as wildlife conservation, environmental issues and benefits to local communities – be sure to look at the operators’ website and social media for signs of this. A responsible operator will also seek to involve tourists in conservation or community upliftment to maximise the benefit to wildlife, land and/or local people.
Add-On Conservation or Community Activities
As environmental issues become ever more of a concern to tourists, guests at safari camps & lodges can often now participate in activities to gain an insight into conservation efforts. Examples of these are;
- Visit a local community or school. Ensure a fee is collected by your accommodation or tour provider and that it goes directly to the community or any relevant community trust/foundation.
- Spend time with a wildlife conservation project. Donations or a fee is often charged and these activities give tourists a unique opportunity to visit projects such as anti-poaching rangers, or a wildlife research monitoring unit. These visits not only offer you an insight into conservation efforts and issues faced by wildlife, it allows tourists to benefit the projects’ work via donations and other support which is often vitally needed.
- Adopt an animal. Many genuine rescue/rehab and sanctuary facilities (read part 1 of our blog on how to identify a genuine facility) offer visitors the opportunity to adopt their animals. These adoptions directly benefit the facility, their animals and the continued work in any rescue and rehabilitation the organisation does.
What do Safari Camps & Lodges do to Benefit Wildlife Conservation?
There are a number of ways your chosen accommodation can or will benefit wildlife and the environment. As a rule of thumb, Captured In Africa only deal with safari camps & lodges who actively demonstrate at least one or more, of the following;
- The safari camp/lodge employs local staff & guides and may also play a part in local community funding/equipment supply (ie text books for schools, which tourist may also assist with through Pack For A Purpose).
- The accommodation may use 100% or part green power such as solar panel installations.
- Camps & Lodges are often situated and take residency on vast tracks of land, ensuring habitat is protected from over-farming and illegal hunting.
- The camp & lodge may be part of a community based land managed model (such as the Maasai Mara Conservancies in Kenya), whereby the safari camp leases the land and the community are stakeholders in the land and share in the profits from tourism received to the area. Such community based model are proving a success in not only safeguarding wildlife, but creating jobs, providing a responsible income to local people and providing vast expanses of land for tourists to enjoy.
- Researchers and scientists regularly partner and work with safari camps/lodges, studying local wildlife, implementing conservation initiatives and helping monitor animal movements to better understand how we can protect them. Guests can also often receive special talks from researchers on their conservation work.
- Many safari camps (such as this from one of our camp suppliers Asilia Africa) create benefits for local children and people with scholarships to training schools. This vital funding helps locals avoid the pitfalls of turning to poaching or unsustainable farming.
- Game Reserve and Conservation Fees are collected when you stay at safari camps & lodges throughout Africa. Park fees help maintain wilderness and habitat for wildlife to roam free, which dedicated conservation fees are influential in instigating and maintaining such things as anti-poaching (like the successful anti-poaching run in South Africa’s Sabi Sands Game Reserve)
- Safari Camps/Lodges may also be a partnered with conservation entities. In these cases, current and future conservation initiatives and projects are intertwined with safari tourists to their properties. A great example of this is Rhinos Without Borders, an initiative run by Great Plains Conservation (who operate safari camps in Botswana, Kenya and Zimbabwe) to relocate rhinos from poaching hotspots to safe havens. Guests who stay at these properties contribute a standard nightly conservation contribution, which goes directly to the rhino relocations – we’re proud to support this initiative and for our customers who have travelled with us to Great Plains safari camps and benefitted this conservation effort.
How Do Captured In Africa Benefit Wildlife Conservation as a Tour Operator?
Our team are strong advocates, campaigners and conservationists for wildlife and responsible tourism. We drive all of our experience, skills and industry knowledge into how we operate in a multitude of ways, including;
- We research each safari and tour product we offer customers to ensure it falls in-line with our ethos
- We advise and discuss conservation issues with customers, regularly updating them and offering suggestions on how they can help
- We campaign the industry for better responsible tourism & conservation practices and are actively involved in updated industry standards
- We have become relied upon as a go-to source for creditable advice and guidance on both tourism and conservation issues
- We help fuel our own non-profit conservation efforts directly from company profits
Captured In Africa CEO Drew Abrahamson subsequently founded our own registered non-profit NPO, based in Johannesburg the foundation supports and initiates various long-term & urgent assistance (on the ground) conservation projects benefiting wildlife and partners.
You can read more about our non-profit Captured In Africa Foundation HERE.
Captured In Africa have developed a specialised ethos to summarise this approach to responsible tourism & conservation. We call it ‘Responsible Tourism Conservation’. Our team work to this ethos daily, with the travel trade industry and with each of our customers to ensure tourists not only enjoy, but wildlife and Africa benefits;
Responsible Tourism Conservation
a fundamental ethos of channeling conservation through tourism
Feeding conservation efforts through a focused responsible tourism ethos, ensuring travellers apply their footprint responsibility, one that displays physical benefits for the protection of endangered wildlife, nature and local communities.
Travellers must not travel and have no knowledge of key conservation issues, nor the positive impact for which they can have by travelling with Captured In Africa and helping safeguard endangered wildlife.
All travellers booking and travelling with Captured In Africa Exclusive Safaris are conservationists.
Make a difference. Travel responsibly.