If the wildlife of Africa is to survive for future generations to enjoy, it must be considered by the local people 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 game will quickly disappear. However, tourism needs to be properly managed, benefit the local communities and impact on the environment as little as possible.
There is no doubt that many of our travel partners within Africa are amongst World leaders in Responsible Tourism. Most of the safari companies we work with are involved in some way or other with local 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 many areas, communities are compensated for loss of livestock (through predation), and ex-poachers have been employed as guides or game scouts. Through necessity, Africa sets the standards which the rest of the world could do well to follow. As well as working closely with responsible companies who are forward-thinking in their operations, we actively support a number of community and tourism related projects:
Through the Loldia School Fund, we have sponsored students through high school in Kenya – this is a five year commitment per student.
Koiyaki Guiding School – we provide two bursaries per annum in this unique initiative in Kenya’s Masai Mara to uplift the local Maasai youth with education in the tourism industry and in eco-friendly land management.
We support the South Luangwa Conservation Society in Zambia through annual membership and donations.
Aside from the above, we also donate various ad hoc amounts to many other smaller projects – 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, Lake Malawi, sponsoring overseas visits for African guides to gain ‘international’ exposure, funding ranger training courses in the OlareOrok Conservancy, Masai Mara, funding the MicroLoan Foundation in Malawi etc. 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 .
In the UK
We are members of The Travel Foundation and partners in the Ethical Tour Operators Group (ETOG) of Tourism Concern. But our commitment to the above does not absolve our responsibilities at home. We have an in-house green travel policy for our staff, 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 for paper, cardboard, tins, and plastics, our stationery is from managed resources, we print as much of our general information only as required (and try and do it double-sided too). You can help too!
We believe that visiting the bush is like visiting someone’s home. Certain common courtesies should be adhered to and will not only make your safari more enjoyable, but will also have less impact on the environment and its inhabitants.
Responsible tourism travel tips to remember:
Be as quiet as you can at all times
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 people.
Do not litter – everything you carry in you must carry out. Aside from the environmental damage, litter can be harmful to the wildlife.
Do not interfere with the wildlife and habitat by:
1. Encouraging your guide to take you too close to the animals, thus putting them under pressure
2. Picking plants and flowers
3. Encouraging your driver to depart from the usual track
4. Making noises to attract or frighten the wildlife.
Do not be afraid of the animals – even the biggest will move quietly away if given the opportunity
Obey all game laws and regulations, and 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 many plant species.
Buy locally crafted souvenirs and when bartering over the price (which is both expected and accepted) don’t drive too hard a bargain – an amount which may be fairly insignificant to you, can represent a lot to a local.
Do not give sweets, pens etc to children on the street as it can encourage begging. It is better to give through a local organisation or school.
As a courtesy, ask before you take a picture of someone. If they ask you to pay, we would discourage you from taking the picture.
Waste disposal can be difficult in remote areas – please think about what you really need to take and remove all packaging before you leave.
Water supplies are scarce in many destinations…please use water sparingly whilst abroad – and why not sign up to Tourism Concerns WET pledge.
Report poor behaviour of guides/safari staff immediately to the management of the property, and to us on your return
For some 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 7m (about 22 feet) from the gorillas. You will not be allowed 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 – if you are sick, do not track. Other rules include:
1. Spitting in the parks is strictly prohibited.
2. Should you need to cough, cover your mouth and turn away from the gorillas.
3. When with the gorillas, keep your voice low.
4. Try not to make rapid movements that may frighten the gorillas. If a gorilla should charge or vocalise at you, do not be alarmed, stand still, look away from the gorilla and follow your guide’s directions.
5. Flash photography is not allowed
In terms of the impact of tourism to Africa, the greatest amount of harm being done to the environment is a direct result of air travel; the CO² emissions from every flight are a vast contributory factor to climate change. It is possible to ‘offset’ these emissions by donating to numerous organisations which undertake projects concentrating on the research for renewable energy sources, energy efficiency, and/or reforestation such as Climate Care or Carbon Footprint who support projects in Africa.