Travel to Africa to Conserve Wildlife and leave your Legacy
In my last blog I spoke about the reasons we love to travel and while these are deeply personal they are also things we like to talk about. We are not just going on safari, we want to know that we travel for wildlife conservation. We are also curious about how they manage to co-exist with wildlife ever present at their doorsteps. We want to know that our travel will conserve wildlife for future generations.
We all hear the stories of crops being raided by Elephants, children or mothers being taken by Crocodile where they collect their water and fishermen being attacked by Hippo. The people in the African countries we visit live a daily knife edge of survival for food and life. Children walk tens of miles to school each day, mothers carry heavy loads of water and wood, fathers risk their lives for food and all with the ever present danger of wild animals.
For many years now the safari companies and lodges have been actively involved in creating better lives for the people that work for them and their communities. These projects are varied and diverse. Guests who visit these camps and lodges each make a small contribution towards the local school, a new borehole for drinking water, anti-poaching patrol support or towards the conservation of a specific species. This makes a significant impact with guests who know that not only are they going to enjoy a once in a lifetime safari in Africa, but their holiday will also have an impact on the social upliftment of the local communities and the conservation of wildlife.
“Twende Porini” – Lets go to the bush
Asilia Africa have long been known for the diversity of their programs that educate children in the benefits of tourism, support anti-poaching, conduct research and preserve species and habitats. This is one way in which travel benefits wildlife conservation.
The Twende Porini program aims to educate children from the local communities in the benefits of tourism and why it is so important to conserve the animals and the land. Most of the children come from communities that border the Masai Mara, Mara Conservancies or the National Reserve. They have no idea why people would travel so far to come and see the animals they consider to be dangerous and a problem in their daily lives.
Buffalo, Lion, Elephant, Hippo and Hyena are animals they are taught to fear, not admire as iconic and worthy of preservation. Why would you want to when they threaten your lively hood? Some have even lost parents to these animals, they do not see them as a source of income or worthy of respect.
Each year Asilia Africa runs competitions in the local schools to select children who will attend a 4 day excursion to one of their camps. A total of 16 children are finally selected and divided into groups of 4, each with their own mentor. The children go on morning and afternoon game drives where they are able to observe the wildlife from a completely new perspective. They are guided by local Masai who share their culture and are able to relate to them. The children invariably bond with the guides and look up to them as role models. During the day, Positive Impact partners teach the children about the environment and why it is so important to care for their natural surroundings.
Through funding from guests the children also receive gifts that are completely unique to them as well as a certificate stating they have been a part of the program. On the last night a movie is hosted under the stars and The Lion King is always a huge hit for the kids! They find it especially amusing that the animals can speak.
Through Twende Porini, guest donations and education, the next generation will grow up realising that while animals can cause problems, they are also worthy of conservation. Guests visiting Asilia camps leave their own legacy of travel that benefits wildlife conservation. Read more about Asilia Africa’s Positive Impact projects.
Conservation South Luangwa (CSL)
In 1999 Rachel McRobb moved to South Luangwa and after several years of running safari camps felt the need to assist wildlife police officers who were conducting anti-poaching patrols in the park. in 2003 the South Luangwa Conservation Society was formed and Rachel was named as the CEO. After nearly 2 decades Rachel now directs a massive budget and a large staff compliment of scouts, advisors, veterinarians and other key support personnel.
What does Conservation South Luangwa do?
Through actively engaging with the local communities the scouts and office staff are able to assist with the protection of Zambia’s wildlife. Their focus is to stop poaching and completely eradicate all wildlife trafficking be it meat or other products. One of the most important aspects of their work is Human Wildlife Conflict Mitigation.
As South Luangwa National Park is surrounded by a Game Management Area, the wildlife is able to move freely and this usually brings the animals and humans into direct contact. The communities surrounding the park often face devastating losses to Elephants raiding crops or predators killing valuable livestock. As there is no “land use plan” in the Game Management Area, settlements and farms appear sporadically. CSL are working hard to prevent these interactions through blasting the crop raiding Elephants with chilli, fences, watch towers and Elephant Safe grain stores.
Wildlife Rescue and De-Snaring
CSL pays special attention to the bush meat trade. As the populations surrounding the park have exploded in recent years so it has become an area that requires active intervention in the form of anti-poaching patrols. Setting snares is an easy way for poachers to trap animals with little risk to themselves. However, these snares often end up catching the wrong animals or cause a long and painful death.
There are high densities of animals in the Game Management Areas, a ready supply of wire and a large market for bush meat making this an easy source of cash for impoverished Zambians.
Through the assistance of the safari lodges and guides who traverse the park each day, CSL is also able to gain valuable information and time in rescuing animals. With a dedicated veterinarian on the staff CSL are able to react quickly and can sedate and rescue animals caught in snares or trapped in mud at the end of the rainy season.
Guests who visit any of the lodges in South Luangwa make a small donation to CSL ensuring their travel to Africa benefits wildlife conservation. If you would like to do more then explore how you can get involved directly.
Due to the alarming rise in poaching since the 1970’s and the decimation of Zambia’s wildlife populations, Rachel McRobb recognized the need for boots on the ground. CSL now supports more than 60 well trained and disciplined men and woman who sometimes spend more than 20 days in the bush conducting anti-poaching patrols.
These troops are at the front line protecting the wildlife in South Luangwa.
Conserving The Black Rhino of Ol Pejeta
With humble origins as a cattle farm the Ol Pejeta Conservancy is today one of the largest and most successful Rhino sanctuaries in East Africa. It is also home to two of the last remaining Northern White Rhino in the world and the only place in Kenya where you can see Chimpanzee.
The sanctuary was established with the aim of rescuing and rehabilitating animals that had been rescued from the black market. At 140 square miles in size this is one of the smaller conservancies yet it boasts incredible diversity of wildlife and surprisingly dense predator numbers. The conservancy still maintains a small herd of Boran cattle who are quite bush savvy and manage to produce high quality meat from very low quality forage.
People who like to travel to conserve wildlife will find this conservancy one of the more rewarding destinations on the safari circuit. If you are interested in these efforts then consider staying at Ol Pejeta Bush Camp.
The ethos of the Ol Pejeta conservancy is one of educating the next generation so they are fully invested and empowered with knowledge to drive conservation forward. The conservancy hosts over 25 000 children annually into the Conservation in Action campaign geared for children from the age of 4 and older.
Participants have the opportunity to get involved with the staff at the conservancy inspecting enclosures and talking to the rangers who are tasked with protecting the Rhinos’. This is an ideal opportunity to inspire children to travel for wildlife conservation.
Children in the Wilderness
The Children in the Wilderness programme was established by Wilderness Safaris in 2003 with the aim of conservation through leadership development and the education of children. In their words “we need the rural children of Africa to understand the importance of conservation and its relevance in their lives.”
This really is the crux of wildlife conservation in Africa now and will be so for many years to come in the future. If we do not educate the next generation about the importance of, and need for conservation of wildlife and pristine habitats then all our efforts in other directions are wasted. Without guests who travel for wildlife conservation, their donations, desire to help and their wish for their children to experience it, these programmes would not be possible.
Children in the Wilderness operates in all the countries in which it has lodges – 7 countries in total and a vast team of dedicated people who are committed to the children of Africa. The initiative begins with children in the programme, identifying those with great potential and building on that to assist them in their chosen direction. Bursaries, annual camps, scholarships and providing employment at the end is what Children in the Wilderness is all about.
The Bushcamp Company in South Luangwa have been directly involved witht heir staff and communities for many years now. First started by Andy Hogg their mission statement is simply “to make a difference”.
The Bushcamp Company not only supports the local communities but is also actively involved with the Conservation South Luangwa. To date, through Mfuwe Lodge and the hard work of Andy Hogg they have built six classrooms with desks, built dormitories for the children, upgraded the washrooms, provided sports equipment and engaged in a tree planting project, and that’s just at one school!
Over 2500 children benefit from the Meal a Day Programme that has had an incredible impact over a vast area of the children’s lives. They are more alert, attentive and keen to attend school and their parents feel less pressure knowing they are well fed and cared for when at school.
Their commitment to clean water has seen the company establish more than 136 boreholes ensuring families walk shorter distances for clean drinking water. They have distributed over 3000 mosquito nets and established a compost heap which is donated to farmers who grow fresh produce for the lodge which is bought from them by Bushcamp Company. A win win relationship.
In the area of support to Conservation South Luangwa and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife they have built an airstrip in the Kapamba region, all weather roads for anti-poaching patrols, sunk boreholes at the Scout Camps, have provided financial support to impoverished communities, provided a light aircraft for anti-poaching and wildlife monitoring as well as providing the funding for the training of 92 additional scouts.
For those that want to travel with the aim of conserving wildlife, then visiting Mfuwe Lodge and her bushcamps is a way for you to leave a small legacy to the people that call it home.
The impact COVID has had on travel, the small contributions each person makes towards wildlife conservation, children’s education and social upliftment will be felt for many years to come. If you really want your travel for wildlife conservation to make the greatest difference, then visit a lodge that is actively involved in these areas.
Your safari to Africa will directly benefit wildlife conservation, education and social upliftment – now is the time to travel again!
CEO – African Safari Experts