The re-introduction of endangered species is one aspect of the ecotourism that is probably best appreciated by safari-goers. When those animals are mega herbivores it is also good for the long-term survival of the natural habitat. The Wilderness Safaris’ programme in Botswana to re-introduce both black and white rhinos to an area where they had become locally extinct is a noteworthy example.
One of the easiest and most commendable community programmes a safari lodge can implement, is to build and support a local school or health clinic that previously would have been held under a shade tree, or not at all. This clinic close to Tafika Camp in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley is funded by them.
Elephants are big in every way you think about them, especially when you have to track, monitor, treat or move one. Involving young people from the local community in the research and the on-the-ground conservation work is an important investment in the future. This big elephant bull at Vumbura in Botswana is being fitted with a radio collar to track its movements by satellite so that the scientists from “Elephants without Borders” can monitor its seasonal migrations.
One dedicated and motivated person can make a huge difference in their own back yard. One case is Richard Bonham with his community outreach program and anti-poaching unit in and around the 150,000 hectare Mbirikani Group Ranch in the Amboseli region of southern Kenya. Richard and his family live on the community ranch and run the conservation trust for the reserve which he helped establish with the local Maasai landowners.
Safari lodges should, wherever possible, work with and support quality, academcically grounded research projects and NGOs that are doing important and meaningful monitoring and conservation work. But beware the bogus researchers and film makers who use the cover of “research” as a convenient means to gain privileged access to wildlife areas.
An elephant does a site inspection to check the solar water heating system. It’s surprising how many lodges still run power hungry electrical geysers when the latest and relatively inexpensive solar hot water geysers are now highly efficient and cost effective. Some solar geysers even work in the shade and come in various capacities and prices to suit just about every need. Apparently Zarafa Camp in northeastern Botswana passes this elephant’s muster.
Walking the line like a posse of energy police, a pride of lions at Mombo Camp in the Okavango Delta. Quite distinct from water heating is the issue of power generation. The greenest lodges started experimenting with solar power years ago. Today’s technology, efficiencies and costs make solar energy the obvious choice – everywhere. Just 6 hours of sunlight can provide 24 hours of 200v electricity day and night for a well engineered camp or lodge.
Even cooking can be done with eternally renewable solar energy. Simple solar cookers can keep a kettle boiling all day with not one twig needed for burning. Solar ovens can also be used for baking, slow-cooking and even frying.