CONSERVATION & SAFARI
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Our Purpose is Conservation
Would the world’s greatest wildlife continue to be wild without safari? Could it thrive without the affirmative vote you provide by going on safari? We don’t think so. We are enlightened conservationists who became activists, promoting safari as the best way to support communities, wild wildlife, and a natural world that’s been around far longer than we have.
For conservation to be valued it must be acted upon by local people. To achieve this local communities must be economically sustainable – not reliant on money from poaching and trophy hunting. Animals and landscapes have to pay their way – for over a quarter of a century we’ve been passionate about the role of high-end safari in enabling conservation.
We see safari tourism as the serious counterweight to trophy hunting and poaching, the win-win that preserves an ineffable world for future generations. And it all starts with you. It starts with you choosing to take the safari vacation you have always dreamt about. By doing it now, you do it at a time when so much is at stake.
Our Role and Your Role in Sustainable Conservation
Back in the early 1990s we were haunted by questions that occupied our thoughts on both sides of the Atlantic. How would we feel to be the last generation to witness wild rhinos? How could we ask forgiveness if our grandchildren could only see elephants in a zoo? How could we move from armchair conservationists and make a difference?
That’s where Heritage Africa was born, this passion to be part of the solution, not simply another outraged voice. We had said save the elephants too many times. But little did we know the ups and downs that the next quarter century would bring. And we suppose that it’s this journey that has made us enlightened activists. Safari makes sense. It finds the balance between the needs of communities, wild habitats and the greatest wild mammals to walk our planet. And it achieves this because it has the currency that is always necessary to have a say and make a difference.
High-end safari tourism brings in money. Your money. For over a quarter century we have been part of a people trying to scale this industry. Unless a land can pay its way it can’t exist in its current state. Rhinos don’t vote. They don’t work. They don’t pay, they just eat and eat and eat, sometimes even eating the crops of hungry villagers. A safari isn’t just a life-changing journey for you. It breathes life into the wild. It sustains, it grows, it keeps the magic of the African wilderness alive.
No one will protect what they don’t care about. And no one will care about what they have never experienced
-Sir David Attenborough
The Challenges We Must Face Up To
When you’re so invested in the wild world it’s hard to imagine a time when it no longer exists, even though that wild world is at best precarious, and at worst tumbling towards extinction. And this is not an ephemeral world – it’s been around far longer than all of us have. We can’t imagine telling stories about elephants and rhinos to our grandchildren, without the promise that one day they will come eye to eye with those giants. Yet we know that this is a real possibility, one that is accelerating through climate change, habitat loss, poaching and trophy hunting.
With such questions it’s easy to be downhearted. But we are hopeful. Through safari tourism we’ve continually witnessed great hope for the future. We’ve seen a solution that creates harmony between man and wilderness in a sustainable way. It’s an activist step that has helped us go beyond outraged cries of unfairness. We live in the 21st century and we can’t simply lament the forces and direction of the world. All we can do is do something about it.
By going on safari you provide an affirmative vote. You stand up to support endangered wildlife in its natural habitat. You make a difference. Your financial contribution is part of what will keep wild Africa as it should be. And by going on safari you leave your own legacy, helping future great grandchildren have the chance to look a wild rhino in the eye.
Rhinos face extinction in our lifetimes.
Every Piece of Land in the World Must Pay Its Way
It’s easy to say protect the rhinos, protect the rainforest, protect the seas. But that’s not how an overpopulated, global capitalist society works. Every square mile of land is being analysed by surveyors, every place a potential opportunity for profit. Elephants don’t pay rent. Nor do they work. All they do is wander and eat, consuming land like it is their own. Which it is. Or was. In the wildlife world every animal negotiates its own space, finding its own way to survive on a shared land. It is a deadly world, the rhythm of life something you’ll be immersed in when coming on safari.
The animals’ currency of negotiation is evolutionary ability. Those that are successful find a way to outwit their opponents and precipitate a new generation. A towering hippo male controlling a harem; agile klipspringer jumping around steep rock faces to avoid predators; gerenuk with giraffe-like necks so they can feed from trees rather than compete for grass. But in today’s world all these animals have a fatal flaw – they can’t vote or speak or pay their way.
Unless land in its natural state can pay its way, and show its economic worth, it’s destined for development. A sad fact and uncomfortable reality. It’s the people who love elephants who must step up. And that’s where safari comes in. Because there are many other people who are willing to bankroll the land for their own benefit. Farming corporations, mining giants, trophy hunters, those whose consider rhino horn an aphrodisiac.
Then what about local communities. Those getting squeezed off their traditional lands, those in the grip of poverty. Those wanting what we all want – a better life for our next generation. There is no throwaway land, especially when that land is fertile and able to support human life, at a time when so many humans are starving. The global population has tripled in 70 years and the curve only gets steeper. The only solution that has really worked in the last 50 years has been safari tourism. The money you pay conserves the habitat wild animals need. And it supports local communities, mobilizing them to realize a future for themselves and the natural world.
Supporting Local Communities Is Essential to Wildlife Conservation
Of course we are against trophy hunting. However, we must be realistic, not just filled with indignation. Trophy hunters bring hard currency. They vote with their dollars. The more dollars they bring the more say they get. Hunters want to pay their way for the land. As do all those who buy rhino horn and elephant tusk, their money tumbling down to poachers who fight on the land. Hunters support communities. The economic allure of poaching is intoxicating, a single hunt bringing multiple years of income for locals who don’t have many other choices.
For conservation to be valued it must be acted upon by local people and their communities must be economically sustainable. Safari provides a holistic solution. It creates jobs, like a tracker able to support an extended family on a single wage. It means aspirational opportunities for children, the next generation in our fight for conservation. Money filters down into communities, into schools and clinics. School fees, maternity care, medication, food security – it has to come from somewhere and that somewhere is safari.
And here’s the crux, one of the reasons we’re so passionate about attracting more people to go on safari and support this sustainable solution. Safari turns communities into activists. A community can unite against those in their midst who poach. Communities can see the transformative affect and play their role, wonderfully illustrated at the Singita Grumeti. A community is energized to find sustainable solutions to elephants and hippos eating their crops.
There was worldwide outrage when Cecil the Lion was poached in Zimbabwe. Look behind the scenes and you see a dramatic downturn in tourism. Hunters kept coming. Safari stopped bringing in money. Let’s also remember that communities and traditional landowners are best placed to preserve the natural world, it’s something they’ve been doing for all those generations that came before our global, capitalist world. Through safari they don’t have to leave their traditional areas for economic opportunities. The world gets to keep their ancestral knowledge for the betterment of nature.
A Brief History of Conservation in Africa
Wildlife conservation has existed since the dawn of man, not just since international charities called you up asking for donations. In Africa it just worked. But colonialists arriving in Africa were delighted to find rich fertile land that hadn’t been tamed. They’d already razed their own forests for wood and farmland. Now they had stumbled upon land that could not only feed their own population, but would also create huge profits. African people had a different perspective but we all know that their views and basic human rights weren’t important, especially in the early colonial era. Africa’s people had coexisted with the wildlife since the dawn of man. They would kill and take when required, but rarely anything more than what was necessary to support themselves.
The local people had a blueprint that meant harmony between mankind and nature. But the colonialists ripped down native habitats. Animals fled, or were killed for being an annoyance. Traveling luminaries bought teams with guns and hunted down the big five. Ivory was harvested and sold. Rhinos and hippos were slaughtered in astonishing numbers because the animals had the audacity to eat crops, which now covered the land surrounding their waterholes and rivers. The wilderness that did survive was mostly land inhospitable to the colonialists. Luckily, Africa was far bigger than European-made maps gave credit, so large swathes of the interior went unexplored. Malaria kept the Serengeti clear while vast habitats beyond Cecil Rhodes’s railway line remained inaccessible.
Independence arrived. Still the wildlife declined. Insinuations that Africa is to blame for diminishing wildlife upset us, especially those in media or at political level. Africa should be celebrated. Its people should be commended for what has been preserved. Unique wildlife used to roam the entire planet; it’s estimated that 20 to 30 million bison once carpeted the North American landscape. Only in Africa has the wildlife world been preserved. Africa’s people that have pioneered conservation and we see safari as the modern solution to an ancient dilemma. As demands on land has increased, a tourist economy ensures conservation can be realized.
Modern Conservation in Africa
The international community put pressure on governments and communities. But Borneo’s rainforests keep turning to palm oil plantations. Logging in the Amazon only accelerates. Corporate multinationals and international governments still promote wilderness destruction in search of profit. And while conservation may be valued, can individual countries be forced into conservation for the sake of the planet, when their own people are starving and in need?
Africa’s wildernesses can pay their way through safari tourism. Through various conservation fees you are paying to preserve the final vestiges of an untamed world. Every park you enter, every night you spend, every vehicle you travel in…there’s a conservation fee attached to it all.
At the current pace of illegal poaching, when [Princess] Charlotte turns 25 the African elephant will be gone from the wild.
Park and reserve boundaries are maintained through conservation fees. Natural habitats have space to thrive. Gazetted areas can increase and extend. In East Africa they’ve even reclaimed farmland. Species can thrive when their natural habitat increases and there are some wonderful success stories across the continent. It’s not just elephants and rhinos and those large mammals that have become beacons of conservation. There are so many other mammals and birds that now thrive because people like you came on a safari.
But these are just the figures you can quantify. The real difference comes from the money that trickles down into communities, allowing these communities to be activists and protectors of the natural world.
Your Role in Conservation
It’s not all good though. The last male northern white rhino passed away in March 2018, his subspecies now extinct. Rhinos in Southern Africa continue to be poached at an average rate of three per day. Elephant populations increased exponentially, but now hover unconvincingly after illicit ivory trade punishments were relaxed. Competition for space continues and we contemplate the same recurring questions and thoughts.
Yet we see an even more poignant benefit to safari tourism: the affirmative vote. Simply standing on the wild savannah and looking out towards the horizon gives voice to these rare and endangered lands. By seeing places like the Greater Kruger or the Serengeti you have a story that can spread far beyond Africa. By going on safari you put your hand up and help preserve the most remarkable and magical parts of our natural world. Who knows where we would be without these shows of support?
Nelson Mandela famously said, “there is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Nobody and nothing can change what happened in Africa’s past, Mandela knew that better than anyone. However, we can be part of the future and we want to know that our grandchildren will come face to face with the greatest mammals to ever walk our earth.
Your safari makes this possible.