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How your safari can contribute to a sustainable Africa

An African safari is an adventure like no other. It’s an incredible opportunity to experience wildlife up close, a chance to witness natural phenomenon’s, to re-connect with nature and to gain cultural exposure, insight and understanding. And all of this in lap of luxury (should you so wish!), sipping on a sundowner as you watch the sun glowing red and orange over the vast plains of Africa.

But have you ever wondered what impact your safari adventures have on the countries, communities and wildlife areas that you travel to? How is it all connected and do your tourism dollars truly filter down through the economy? A safari can have a significant impact on both conservation and communities alike, especially when travelling within the ecotourism model.

Your safari directly contributes to a more sustainable future for Africa

Tourism boosts the revenue of the local economy and creates thousands of jobs. According to the African Development Bank, over 20 million people across Africa are employed in the tourism industry. In addition, governments seek to maintain the condition of areas that are visited by tourists and thus tourism contributes to and encourages the improvement and maintenance of local infrastructure. Safaris and tourism also have the social advantage of creating a sense of pride in local communities for their traditions and way of life, as they see it being celebrated by tourists when they visit. One of the most commonly noted positive impacts of tourism is an increase in awareness for the environment. Tourism often involves educating visitors and shows the incredible need for the environment and why we must protect it. The safari industry relies on healthy, functioning ecosystems with abundant wildlife and it is therefore crucial for safari operators to be actively involved in supporting and protecting the areas in which they operate. Some safaris directly fund certain conservation projects and play an important role in the protection of endangered species.

Your choice of safari can contribute to a sustainable Africa. Photo Credit: Singita

What is Ecotourism and what is it’s impact?

The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) defines Ecotourism as “Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education”. It aims to minimise any negative impacts of travel on the environment and local communities, encourage sustainable practices and deliver education around the importance of protecting wilderness areas.

Lodges and safaris that run off an Ecotourism model are focused on delivering incredible experiences while remaining aware of the localenvironmental, political and social issues. Income from the safari industry notonly goes to investors and owners, but pays for thousands of salaries, anti-poaching units, community-development initiatives and conservation projects. Furthermore, lodges support the local economy through procuring produce from nearby farmers, using local service providers and artisans. Ecotourism, when correctly implemented, can also address some of the root causes of wildlife crime in Africa. By providing jobs and opportunity for upskilling,there is a reduction in poverty and thus a reduction in a key driving force of poaching and other wildlife crime. Ecotourism can also help educate the population in the importance of the wildlife and the value of protecting it and provide a far more sustainable option for the long-term coexistence of people and animals in Africa.

Ecotourism also aims to create a culture of respect and protection for our beautiful world. A 2003 Costa Rican study focused on investigating the impact of Ecotourism, highlighted that increased education resulted in a smaller chance of the population being environmentally destructive. Ecotourism can create a wonderful opportunity for cultural exchange, where tourists and locals both benefit from each other. Ecotourists may implement small changes in their lifestyle in order to become more sustainable, once they have been educated on the interconnectedness of earths ecosystems and how inextricably linked we are with nature. In turn, locals can learn more about different cultures from around the world, while benefitting directly from their natural heritage through the tourism economy.

 As Ecotourism grows, the responsibility lies with the tourist to travel with purpose, be mindful of their impact and choose travel options that take into account their ‘footprint’ on the surrounding areas.

Wild Wonderful World Safaris & EcoTourism

 ur safaris at Wild Wonderful World aim to capture the heart of ecotourism, while providing you with life-changing adventures.  Our safaris deliver intentional and ethical experiences that awaken the soul and inspire a passion for the beautiful world we live in. They aim to bring you closer to the wild, while also giving back in some small way in order to ensure that these wonders remain long after we are gone.

Our impacts afaris all have a strong conservation focus. The funds from these safaris support research and specific conservation projects. They educate the adventurer in conservation efforts in the area and give you a first-hand experience to witness the importance of wildlife protection. A percentage of the trip also goes directly into our Rapid Response Fund which provides immediate funding for wildlife emergencies such as de-snaring animals. You can read more about how our Rapid Response Fund works here.

Experience the magic of encounters with gorillas, elephants, rhinos, wild dog and many other incredible species. We have several hand-crafted itineraries for you to choose from, each focused on one of these species. Check them out on our here!

Final thoughts

The Covid-19 Pandemic has really shed light on the importance of tourism, with the entire industry grinding to a complete halt over the last few months. With a huge loss of jobs, an increase in wildlife crime due to increased poverty, and funds being cut off from key conservation projects, it really has become clear how important Ecotourism is going forward. As borders re-open and travel begins again, we are presented with an opportunity to consciously support Ecotourism models that not only celebrate, but support and protect the beauty of African wildlife.

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