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Doing Safari Right for Wildlife Conservation

Today’s travellers are different to yesterday’s.

A very simple but precise way to look at tourism and the way people wish to travel. The term “eco friendly” is often banded around not only within tourism circles, but by those who may not understand the way travellers think in today’s world. Indeed, it’s a term which has been used for decades to describe efforts for wildlife, environment and other issues which are in overdue need of greener & sustainable alternatives.

You as a traveller may understand the existence and virtue of travelling responsibly, but how do you do that?

As we see first hand as part of our conservation and advocacy efforts for wildlife in Africa, there are sadly many tourism facilities and areas, which are seemingly happy to masquerade of “responsible tourism” or conservation. Which brings us to this recent article from CITES Secretary General John Scanlon;

Article: The world needs wildlife tourism. But that won’t work without wildlife

In this article, Mr Scanlon speaks about the core emphasis that wildlife holds within tourism; “… If we lose the wildlife, we lose the wildlife-based tourism and the jobs that goes with it.”

And this is true. Responsible wildlife tourism is, and can be going forward, the leading conservation tool Africa has to offer. However you need to travel responsibly.


Africa’s lion population has depleted to an estimated 20,000. Responsible tourism is helping their species. Image © Paul Tully/Captured In Africa

Giving value to wildlife

A term we hear from not only animal advocates, but also hunters. One side of the argument believes that value comes from placing a physical price tag upon an animals head, whilst the opposing side (our side) believe that such value comes from tourism, allowing people to responsibly view and photograph these magnificent animals – lions, leopards, elephants, or a rare glimpse of the endangered wild dog or the heavily trafficked pangolin. Our way is also not cruel and ridiculous. Who wants to shoot a lion when Africa is losing them?!

It’s worth remembering that a living male lion for example, can bring approximately 10x or more revenue over the course of his life, than any hunter can bring with their one-off killing of that same male lion. Such male lion trophy hunts can range from between US$10,000 upwards to US$75,000. Killing a male lion can also seriously affect pride dynamics and the survival of cubs and other adults within a given territory. As wildlife filmmaker/photographer and conservationist Beverly Joubert says “You’re not just killing one lion, you’re actually killing several or more”.

Now compare that to a tourist staying at a safari camp or lodge for say an average 5 nights;

  • Camp/Lodge from $350 – $2,500 per person per night
  • Park & Conservation Fees $30 – $100 per person per night
  • Local Flights $150 – $250 per way

Giving a basic cost of US $5,000 – $26,500 for 2 people sharing a 5 night safari.

This is for just ONE travelling group. Now times this by 10-40 rooms per safari camp/lodge and multiply that by the numerous accommodations in each country. Plus many safari itineraries often include 2-3 different lodges and areas/countries, furthering the benefits even more. This equates to an exponential revenue, pumping income into;

  • local economies
  • providing local jobs for local people
  • employing anti-poaching rangers and K9 units
  • providing natural area for wildlife film-making
  • enabling the management of green areas
  • safeguarding habitat for wildlife
  • providing veterinary & rescue assistance for wildlife
  • providing medical benefits & facilities for people
  • sourcing and using renewable power (many safari camps use solar power for electricity/hot water)
  • and many more benefits

The result?

A safe haven for wildlife, within a well managed, eco-friendly, responsible and conservation orientated environment.

As Mr Scanlon himself understands; “Well-managed wildlife-based tourism can offer an economic opportunity that supports wildlife. It must be responsibly managed and operators must engage with staff, customers and, most importantly, local people.”


Lion sighting in Kenya’s Mara Naboisho Conservancy – one of many conservancy and safari area models which includes local people in its management and profit structure. Image © Asilia Africa

Being a responsible safari operator, Captured In Africa are focused on ensuring that the destinations we send our customers to are also responsible and have wildlife and people at the forefront of their efforts and operations. It’s why we would always advise travellers to ask questions, or better yet, simply ask our team who will help guide you to the best safari experience for you, responsibly.

Which brings us back to our opening line ~ Today’s travellers are different to yesterday’s 

Travellers and the general public have come a long way in the past 20-30 years. They are aware of issues such as rhino and elephant poaching, aware that there are only 20,000 African lions left in Africa, they are aware that local people are important as it means employment and upliftment, that our oceans have more plastic in them than we could ever imagine, that our everyday supermarket products could mean that an Orangutan lost their habitat and life … and that conservation is the new cool thing.

Any person, company or tour operator who naively believes that travellers simply wish to be drip-fed a lion or elephant sighting, or a safari lodge of any old standard, are very wrong. Travellers are in tune with our ever changing world and as an industry, we must evolve with it and ensure we are one step ahead to ensure travellers not only benefit responsible tourism and wildlife conservation efforts, but that responsible tourism benefits travellers themselves and makes them all conservationists at heart.

Travel responsibly. Safari with #capturedinafrica


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