Planning a Safe and Sustainable Safari
As summer approaches, thousands of people will plan vacations to Africa, with a majority of them hoping to see jaw-dropping creatures like lions, elephants, and gazelles in their natural habitat. However, an increase in tourism means that the welfare of these animals may actually be compromised.
To help ensure that you're planning a safe - and sustainable - safari, heed the following tips:
- Research a safari company’s background: Some tourism outfitters cater specifically to guests seeking a photo safari, while others specialize in hunting trips. Make sure an outfitter employs trained guides or naturalists who know the local rules. Many companies offer tours led by inexperienced individuals who lack the necessary knowledge to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience which doesn’t harm animals.
- Find a safari outfitter that supports locals: Some companies use a portion of profits to support local programs like wildlife protection in community-owned conservancies, animal conservation outreach and education development, while also providing employment opportunities to community members. Opt for a philanthropic company, if possible.
- Follow all park rules: Safaris provide a rare chance for tourists to get up-close-and-personal with wild animals. However, with this opportunity comes a great amount of responsibility. Off-road and reckless driving, herding, speeding or noise pollution from safari vehicles could disturb or even spook the wildlife, putting everyone in the vicinity in danger.
- Don’t be a part of the problem: In the wild, even the smallest piece of litter could negatively impact the entire ecosystem of a region, so visitors must be extremely diligent throughout their trip. It's also important that when tourists buy local souvenirs, they confirm that trinkets aren't made from animal parts or indigenous wood.
- Don’t turn a blind eye: Report any violation to the relevant wildlife authorities. Remember, animal mistreatment is bad for tourism and reflects poorly on the community, so it is important to voice concerns to the appropriate authorities.