Sustainable tourism enterprises link livelihoods and conservation.

Many African economies depend on tourists flocking to iconic national parks and reserves to see the planet’s most stunning wildlife in its natural habitat.  Safeguarding these irreplaceable living attractions — like elephants and rhinos threatened by poaching — has been a priority for many governments and private conservation initiatives across the continent.  In turn, wildlife-based tourism generates millions in revenues that fund the authorities managing protected areas. At the local level, tourism enterprises like lodges and tour companies that employ people living near, or in, these wildlife-rich zones, ensure the livelihoods of local residents. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all of this with the tourism sector indelibly affected by closed borders.

As countries reopen their borders, new measures must be put in place for a long term viable future for visitors, the local communities and the very environment (fauna & flora) that drives this economy in the first place. Conservation efforts, usually supported by tourism, are suffering and we wonder what can be planned long-term to ensure the safety of these extremely important initiatives. Perhaps these new global conditions will create the incentive to form long-term funding plans for not only now, and the near future, but for the next Covid type impact the world will experience.  We must plan better, and choose more wisely how we travel.

(c) Royal Malewane, South Africa

How Eco-tourism is supposed to support wildlife conservation.

Ecotourism; defined by us at Jackson’s African Safaris, as carbon neutral or carbon PLUS neutral, and 10% directly back into ACTIVE on the ground conservation, all this on top of park and conservancy fees, is an interesting subject to explore. The real question is how, through tourism, we can leave Africa in better shape than we found it?

In an ideal world, every visitor to these protected areas should find ways to not only avoid harming the natural flora and fauna, but also support improvement of the local environment during a visit.  How can this form of travel allow for local communities to thrive is always a key question?  To enable and empower visitors to learn how to treat the land and visit animals in the wild, without disturbing their surroundings is critical, a model must be established.  Due to our decision to seek out companies that enrich the local people and the land, we are able to protect, support and raise awareness about the beautiful wildlife habitats we visit. While, higher end safaris can be curated to these specifications more easily with more funds available, we are constantly searching for ways to give back for budget safaris – as these can be some of the most destructive in nature, but often the most accessible for the average tourist. Important considerations need to be given in how to make these budget trips viable long term, leaving Africa in at least the SAME shape, if not better shape than when you arrived, for your ‘great deal’ is a  critical first step!

So to make all trips carbon neutral, given the very visible climate change happening throughout Africa and heavily impacting many local people is a must.  This is everyone’s responsibility to act, that is each and everyone one of us who makes the decision to travel.  If we can afford to travel, we can afford to make our trip carbon neutral, giving to initiatives that will make your entire trip carbon neutral, that won’t break the bank, but certainly is a good starting point to making our footprint on the environment less heavy, giving some hope to local people unable to control their change in environment.  Remember if your a local rural African living a Nomadic life, and have no means to pay your way out of your situation the world has put you in, solutions from the West, are only helpful, when remembering this reality, and we take responsibility for this in an appropriate way – now is a good time for us to think and act differently.

Approximately 2 tons of carbon are emitted from a long haul return flight from Europe to Nairobi, 4 tons from the USA.  In the tropics, 1 tree will sequester approximately 200kg of carbon over 10 years. We have chosen a tree planting initiative in Kenya called Trees in the Wild as a great option to support to offset the carbon footprint for your flights.  The Trees in the Wild program plant trees on the edges of the Maasai Mara and into the Mau watershed.

$100 will plant and ensure the establishment of 10 trees which over 10 years would offset your flight from Europe.

$200 will plant and ensure the establishment of 20 trees which over 10 years will offset your flight from the USA.

This covers:

$20 per indigenous seedling from the Trees in the Wild nursery.

$20 per month for 9 months goes towards the secure establishment of the trees, keeping them safe from being destroyed by livestock or wildlife.

The program is responsible for:

  • Securing appropriate land on which the tree seedlings are planted ensuring they will be looked after and safe.  
  • Ensuring that seedlings do not get destroyed by wildlife or livestock and replace the ones that do not survive. 
  • Monitoring the progress and local community members are employed to look after the trees.
  • Choosing and sourcing appropriate tree seedlings including rare and endangered trees.

How the progress is tracked:

  • A geo-reference is given on for each tree planted for each guest.
  • A certificate is given for the trees planted.
  • Guests are invited to come back and see the progress on future safaris and have an opportunity to plant more!
  • Photos of the forest planted are sent each year.

Let us know if you would like to partner with this project to help take further care of the environment. Get in touch!

Luckily, there are people like you out there in the world who take an interest in responsible travel and look for ways to visit exotic destinations while helping conserve local flora and fauna.  There are some simple practices that we have put in place, like making all trips carbon neutral and aiming towards 10% directly back into local active conservation, to ensure local fauna and flora welfare, is taken seriously and that the experience is more about sharing & taking care of nature’s magnificence, than it is about generating profits. This is the difference between a responsible tour and an irresponsible one!

Visiting any national park or reserve in Africa is a responsibility, not a right, and we are in the process of loosing these places so we must all become responsible! As visitors we are responsible for supporting both the local communities and the natural places we visit! Remember, our goal is to leave Africa in BETTER shape than we found it!  In our opinion, the alternative should never have been an option.

(c)Chobe Bakwena Lodge, Botswana

Celebrating Victories: Disadvantaged single mothers trained to be a wildlife-saving squad in Zimbabwe.

“For a single mother living in Zimbabwe, the job prospects are limited; growing food to sell, sewing or cooking. But a new community development initiative is training them to be a crucial part of the anti-poaching front line, with a focus on female empowerment. Community Scouts are a squad of wildlife-protecting troops, trained by National Park Rescue and supported by charity Space for Giants, who provide equipment and pay their salaries – which are much more than a living wage.” -The Independent

At Jackson’s African Safaris, we know how important rangers are in protecting the beloved wildlife. Looking to support rangers? We highly recommend checking out National Park Rescue  and African Parks for their amazing programs that are truly essential in supporting these wildlife warriors.

(c) National Park Rescue, Zimbabwe

How is COVID-19 affecting nature?

There is a misconception that nature is “getting a break” from humans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, many rural areas in the tropics are facing increased pressure from land grabbing, deforestation, illegal mining and wildlife poaching. People who have lost their employment in cities are returning to their rural homes, further increasing the pressure on natural resources while also increasing the risk of COVID-19 transmission to rural areas. Meanwhile, there are reports of increased deforestation in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Illegal miners and loggers are encroaching on indigenous territories, which could expose remote indigenous communities to the virus. Areas that are economically dependent on tourism face reduced resources as tourism has come to a halt, resulting in a rise in bush meat (wild meat) consumption in Africa. Meanwhile, illegal mining for gold and precious stones in Latin America and Africa is on the rise, as prices spike and protected areas are left unguarded.

This brings us back to the very beginning of this post: How can we long-term secure funds to support increased protection for local reserves and animals, especially during Covid-19 type circumstances? Certainly, creating more employment would benefit local communities, but are there enough funds to create enough employment and protection to counter the negative impact of Covid-19? We do believe there must be hope for both local residents, wildlife and conservation efforts – now is the time to start planning for them to thrive, not simply survive – plan your trip to make a difference!

Spotlight: Artists for Conservation

Artists for Conservation Foundation programs are unique in concept and exist to further their mission to support environmental conservation work through art. Through their programs, they engage, inspire and inform the public, and empower passionate professional artists as effective ambassadors for the environment. Artists for Conservation provides a unique platform where purchasing amazing artwork supports conservation efforts.  Art work sold by members generally gives back 30% of the sale price back to the foundation supporting their ongoing conservation and education programs.

Jackson’s African Safaris has been a privileged supporter and organizer of the Artists for Conservation Foundation fundraiser Safari to Kenya. Looking to join a safari with a positive impact? Check out our 2021 itinerary and reserve your spot today!

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