True Travel Times
I recently spent a month on safari in Tanzania and Kenya. Nineteen flights in eleven different aircraft took me to some of the most iconic safari areas in Africa: the Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Selous, Laikipia, Samburu and the Maasai Mara among them. I was treated to mind-blowing scenery and incredible wildlife experiences, superb guiding and generous East African hospitality.
Watch an elephant herd move magnificently through a grove of doom palm and it’s easy to forget that this is a continent in wildlife crisis. Throughout Africa poaching is out of control. The Selous Game Reserve, the largest ‘protected’ area on the continent has lost at least 75% of its 50,000 elephant to ivory poachers in the past ten years. You read correctly. At current levels elephant, rhino and lion will be brought close to extinction in the next decade. Well over 1,000 rhino have been poached in each of the past four years in South Africa alone.
However, there is hope! Remarkably, and against all predictions the global rhino population is still increasing. But only just. Everywhere I travelled brought me into contact with inspirational people who have and continue to dedicate their lives to the preservation of Africa’s natural heritage. Passionate people, working impossibly long hours, in tough and often dangerous conditions. For them failure is not an option. We as tour operators, and you as tourists have a vital part to play in the future of our planet’s most majestic wildlife.
Take Kenya’s Laikipia. Home to one of the most well documented of Africa’s conservation efforts, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. What has and continues to be achieved in this, and neighbouring conservancies in the name of conservation is remarkable. It’s perhaps the most beautiful place I have ever visited: rugged mountains and rolling plains, a huge natural amphitheatre with the spectacular craggy peak of Mount Kenya watching over. There is something for everyone. It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t been, but anyone who has will tell you they think of little else than their next visit. Here the fight is on and the tide is turning. The security team use every tool available to them, from the sniffing power of bloodhounds to the eyes in the sky provided by Vulcan, the high-tech and philanthropy-focused company founded by Microsoft’s co-founder Paul Allen.
Throughout Africa there are remarkable stories of determination, conservation partnerships and dedicated individuals all committed to tackling the problem. How can you help? As Kenyan wildlife expert Jonathan Scott so accurately puts it in the Telegraph: “The bottom line is this: if we abandon tourism, we abandon conservation. When people ask me, ‘How can we help?’ we say: ‘By taking a safari.’ Wildlife-based tourism is not a choice but a necessity. It pays the bills that keep the game parks and their wildlife secure. Without the tourist dollars you might as well hand over all the remaining wildlife to the poachers.”
Our team at True Travel have run marathons and scaled mountains in the name of conservation – we aim to be walking, talking ambassadors for African wildlife. It’s remarkable how few people are fully aware of the current crisis and the measures being taken to counter it. If you’d like to find out more about which areas of Africa need your help and how you can contribute to the fight against poaching, give us a call to talk to one of our Africa specialists.
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