Infusing our personal ethics into how we travel
What’s missing from this definition of ‘travel’?
: to go on a trip or journey : to go to a place
: to go through or over (a place) during a trip or journey
: to move from one place to another
We often miss the obvious, but thinking about WHY WE TRAVEL is crucial towards creating a positive environmental and humanitarian impact. In fact, we believe it’s the first question we should consider, before we even attempt to book those long desired flights to far-flung corners of the world.
Travel is a fantastically “selfish” thing to do, it’s rarely seen as being environmentally friendly and it’s primarily done out of a personal choice and wish to be somewhere else. This however, is a fundamental misunderstanding of travel, where people can be naïve to the extent that one can believe that travel cannot be beneficial to the destination we visit – in some cases, it can be crucial to the destinations we do visit.
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown that travel, when removed, can have catastrophic consequences on destinations that rely on the impact of tourism. A recent statement by The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in support of the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s stance towards travel bans and outlines how recent travel bans may do more harm than good; “BLANKET TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS DON’T WORK”. We don’t think anyone could have predicted the huge impact of the pandemic, nor was there a clear plan of action in not only tackling Covid-19, but strategically safeguarding the tourism industry, jobs and revenue. Perhaps we could have managed it more affectively whilst still taking health precautions?
“Around the world, in countries at all development levels, many millions of jobs and businesses are dependent on a strong and thriving tourism sector. Tourism has also been a driving force in protecting natural and cultural heritage, preserving them for future generations to enjoy”, said Secretary General of the UNWTO Mr. Zurab Pololikashvili
Now is the perfect time to start thinking about WHY WE TRAVEL. The eyes of travellers are being opened every day to environmental concerns, animal abuses, the support that local people desperately need and the potential of eco-tourism – and it’s a drum that Better Safaris‘ CEO Paul Tully has been beating for the past decade.
The United Nations predict that as many as 100 million direct tourism jobs are at risk and an estimated loss of income to the tourism industry totalling US$1.2 Trillion.
7% of world tourism relates to wildlife, a segment growing by 3% annually, and it’s this form of wildlife tourism that Better Safaris are passionate about, allowing travellers to experience truly sustainable tourism that not only benefits your memories and photos, but crucially – people, destinations, eco-systems and wildlife.
Combatting poaching can be supported by booking a safari?
Firstly, you have park and concession fees, paid nightly by tourists. National Park fees contribute towards the destination through anti-poaching patrols and other conservation initiatives. They also assist in economic growth for that country, with subsequent implementation of infrastructure such as roads, schools, clinics and so on.
Secondly, by booking a stay at a safari camp, immediately you employ local staff; including guides, chefs, hospitality, engineers, gardeners, waiters/waitresses, housekeeping and camp management. Many of the safari camps we work with also employ local anti-poaching and/or contribute towards the local anti-poaching unit.
Another fantastic way that your visit supports the war on poaching, is through personal experiences on safari, such as visiting a local conservation project. Various safari camps we offer, provide guests with an opportunity to spend a few hours with local wildlife projects and researchers, often in return for a monetary donation or fixed fee to support their continued work.
A perfect example of this is through a Better Safaris’ conservation safari – here, guests have the special opportunity to head on safari, responsibly view animals & destinations and as part of a travellers’ itinerary, visit the Mara Elephant Project, spending the afternoon with their dedicated team of elephant monitors. This provides tourists with an excellent insight into conservation on-the-ground. Donations to the Mara elephant Project are made directly from Better Safaris for every safari booked.
Expanding minds to become fundamentally aware of the positive impact your travel can have.
Changing ways and engaging local people is critical.
Protecting habitat is the number one conservation tool, without it, wildlife has nowhere to go but towards extinction. One incorrect assumption is that trophy hunting and its ownership of vast hunting concessions in Africa and worldwide, helps protect wildlife. It doesn’t. Hunters protect an area of land in order for them to simply kill the animals. It’s a cruel conveyer belt of convenience (for the hunter) and what trophy hunters have done to African communities & governments is splash the cash, cash that now equates to corrupt mentalities because now local communities don’t see the alternative.
Read: Facts about trophy hunting courtesy of Human Society International.
There is however a good point in safeguarding habitat that many animal advocates miss, and that is – should trophy hunting be banned, where will revenues be derived from to replace trophy hunting and assist local communities (and governments) to thrive?
A recent article entitled – Hunting trophy ban must be backed by a global fund to support communities living with wildlife – points to this very conversation and it’s an important debate to have. If we are to truly correct the mistakes of the past that allowed trophy hunting to take it’s hold on some African communities and governments, then we as animal advocates, travellers, charities and tourism entities, must begin to create, innovate and channel revenue into ethical and responsible initiatives that can help wipe trophy hunting from ever being a go-to source of income.
No true animal lover wants to kill to conserve.
Driving eco-tourism and other ethical funding channels.
Safaris work. They do a fantastic job in generating revenue for wildlife conservation and as we have seen, are a great tool for ensuring inclusivity for local people. We have seen through African Parks, a non-profit conservation organization that takes on direct responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of protected areas in partnership with governments and local communities, that safeguarding ranges of habitat ethically and responsibly CAN BE DONE.
We’ve also seen through the conservancy model in Kenya and other parts of Africa, whereby local communities lease their land to tourism entities (ie safari camps) and become active stakeholders, that community involvement and ownership, ultimately safeguards land & wildlife, promotes local employment and creates infrastructure, medical and education facilities CAN BE DONE.
2 years since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic have shown a weakness of tourism, in that when it disappears, jobs, industry, conservation and sustaining nature is negatively impacted. No one ignorantly assumes that travel is the number one or only answer, it’ll take a multi-faceted approach. So here we have the all important task; there are many other ways to generate revenue to assist protecting our natural world, fund wildlife conservation and empower communities…. but we need to begin creating, innovating and importantly, changing our ways, before the next pandemic strikes.
And maybe book a safari? Because with Better Safaris, we promise that your travel really is helping.
Who’d like to book a safari?
Plan your trip today with Better Safaris and know that your travel will benefit people, places and wildlife.
Email us or drop Paul a Whatsapp: +1 438 764 2684
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