Travellers are now beginning to seek more from their experiences, when on safaris or on holiday. No longer content with simply visiting a lovely place and then leaving it without a trace or any positive effect, but rather enriching these regions from their presence, I have been busy seeking out ways in which to combine wildlife and community projects with tourism.
Conservation efforts are the lifeblood for the preservation of wildlife in Africa and inter alia, the environment in general.
Whether that is in terms of the overall concept of finding a natural balance for the co-existence between human and wildlife, or more focussed projects, it is essential to supporting both wildlife and human habitation in a stressed environment.
Burgeoning population levels affect habitats, which are becoming denuded or reduced due to overpopulation and overgrazing.
Historically, science based activities, particularly in the field of wildlife research has remained a fairly hallowed pastime that precluded the presence of laymen unless it was on an NGO/voluntary basis.
Funding for these vitally important projects has and will invariably be the Achilles heel of any charitable organisation, especially the smaller, lesser known or unsung charities.
These operate at a grass root level and do not have the large budget for marketing that larger charities such as WWF do. However the smaller charities benefit greatly from any donation as the majority, if not all of your contributions go directly to the sharp end and not on administrative costs!
But nothing can be achieved without the tacit agreement, understanding and social upliftment of local communities.
When tourism plays such a large role in most of these African economies, governments then need to look at tourists and private equity in general to elevate awareness and funding and assist in implementing and securing the success of wildlife for future generations.
Hence, I have spent my journeys to Africa sourcing the finest, most proactive, charitable organisations. I have spent years supporting these operations myself and so I personally know the people behind these wonderful projects.
They are dedicated and committed to sustaining the natural environment, enriching the lives of local communities and maintaining wildlife numbers through constant monitoring and rigorous anti-poaching initiatives.
Collarings are a wonderful way in which you can support small, on the sharp end conservation efforts, whilst also enhancing your own safari experience.
You can assist with micro chipping or collaring elephant, to chart their migratory patterns and gain some understanding of their footfall and the impact they have on the villages they pass. In turn, we can learn how one can assist these villagers to deter elephants whilst allowing them to tread these paths which are deeply embedded in their DNA.
Collaring lion is another option, so we can track their movements, informing villagers when they get close so they can protect both themselves and their livestock.
To give one example, I had the privilege of spending some time with Dr Flip Stander, founder of Desert Lion Conservation and recognised as a world authority on the African lion. We spent time studying the desert lion in the Kaokoland region of Namibia.
Through his dedication and research - which spans 34 years tracking the desert lion - the lion population in this area has increased to 150 with around 32 presently collared. The long-term goal is to have the desert lions range from the Orange River in the south, to the Kunene River in the north.
This free roaming for these desert lion should have a big and positive impact. Much of his current work is focused on ensuring that the local communities derive benefits from lions through tourism that out-weigh the costs of living alongside them.
Your funding and contributions will assist in ensuring the survival of endangered species in Africa, as well as elevating and enhancing the overall experience, making it a truly gratifying safari!