This week’s blog is a guide to the five conservation factors you must consider when you go on safari. Safaris are one of the most luxurious holidays that you can choose to go on, but it is important that you consider conservation factors when you are choosing your next safari trip.
Firstly, make sure that you are leaving the wildlife to do as they please without intervening, there have been many uncomfortable stories of people throwing things to get the animals’ attention or getting in the way when they see animals hunting. This is a really important thing for you to think about and although you may want to get up close and personal with the animals, they need to be left to their own devices! It is a much more satisfying experience to just watch the magnificent wildlife act as though you aren’t there.
Our second thing that you must think about is how eco-friendly is the lodge that you are planning on staying at? Many of the cheaper lodges encourage bus tours to see the wildlife which can be distressful to the environment, make sure that you are choosing a lodge which has eco-principles and focuses on walking, cycling and other sustainable tours. It is easy to
do some research into the best (and worst) lodges in the area that you have chosen to explore so make sure that you take the time to do this or you may be a part of damaging the area. Although some of the cheaper lodges are not behaving in an eco-friendly way, some of the luxurious ones are just as bad. This is mainly because their guests expect so many luxuries and facilities including unlimited water supply and plenty of power in the lodges. This is unreasonable of people to expect and want things like this when you are in the bush, make sure that when you are in your lodge, you are thinking about your power usage and water – even if it is unlimited to you, it is causing a massive impact on the area. Many companies claim to be eco-friendly, ethical and sustainable but make sure that you are checking these facts before you book anywhere – this can take as little as five minutes on a search engine. Being eco-friendly is a big thing nowadays, with humans so often contributing to environmental problems it is important that when you are visiting such an unspoilt area, you are thinking about how you can reduce the impact of your stay. Before you even arrive in Africa, you can look into carbon-offsetting which is offered by some airlines and involves you paying a small fee to “offset” the negative impact of taking a long flight.
Another thing to think about it although you may have chosen an eco-friendly lodge, are you behaving in an eco-friendly way? It is important to think about the impact that we have as humans on areas like the ones that you will be visiting on safari. Make sure that you are saving power and using water wisely as, in many parts of Africa, water is sparse so you must respect this. Make sure that you are utilising public transport when exploring the towns and cities and sharing taxis with other people from your lodge if you want to travel in a car. Like in the UK where using plastic water bottles is discouraged, make sure you are taking a reusable bottle with you – however, make sure that the water is safe for drinking! If you need to buy water if you can’t drink the tap water, buy a larger bottle and decant into your reusable one in order to save costs and reduce rubbish! It is also things like toxic soaps, shampoo and insect repellent that can cause harm to your environment, make sure to check the products you are buying and only take non-toxic ones with you to the bush.
Of course, something that you must think about (and do) is making sure that you are being respectful to the local culture, land and any wildlife projects that may be going on in the area. There are all sorts of conservation efforts going on across the continent, from anti-poaching to community empowerment and engagement projects. If you are interested in taking a look at some of the incredible work that is going on, take a look at The Wilderness Wildlife Trust where you can read about some of their amazing projects. These projects can range from things like species studies, monitoring of populations and the conflicts between humans and animals. There are also projects which help bring communities together and involve looking after local children. Of course, there are many projects on anti-poaching and research into getting this stopped once and for all.
Local communities are often the ones that face the “cost” of living with the wildlife, some get evicted from lands so that lodges can be built, and tours can take place, they also face damage to their crops and livestock as a result of the increased amount of wildlife. Often, the government promises money to the local communities from the national parks, but this promise is often not met. A good way for you to give back to the community, besides from
choosing an ethical lodge to stay at, is to buy from the local businesses that you come across whilst exploring the towns and cities. Unemployment and poverty are rife across much of Africa and every little bit that you can spend in local businesses can contribute towards a more stable and happy community.
Finally, of course, you can take as many photos as you want to – after all, this is probably one of the most exciting and unique experiences that you will ever have the chance to enjoy – but, make sure you are being responsible. When you are out on safari, make sure to not interfere with vegetation, pick any fauna or feed the animals. For some, this may seem obvious, but any destructive behaviour can have a negative knock-on effect on the area. Tread lightly (literally!) and be respectful to the local people, the animals, wildlife and the area. Make sure that when you leave, all you have left are a few footprints and positive contributions!
One last thing that we will leave you with is about how you can stay safe whilst on safari. You may be faced with some intimidating wildlife during your trip but providing that you follow the advice from your guide and respect the animals, you will be fine. There are packages out there which are too good to be true, a small price but a massive experience?
Not real and can put you in danger! Make sure, like, with your lodge, you read some reviews of whichever company you choose to plan your safari trip for you. There is no doubt that Africa is an amazing place for you to visit and to go on safari. There are so many ways in which you can do this in a sustainable way where you are not having a negative impact on the local people, the environment or the wildlife. Make sure to research where
you are planning to stay in full, read reviews and learn about all the different ways in which you can enjoy your safari holiday whilst making positive contributions to this industry.