Responsible tourism: South Africa wildlife reserves conservation expedition
Getting here and back with minimal impact is important to us. We are uneasy about supporting most carbon offset programmes, as we feel that in most cases they are not in fact a “fair” trade off and do not address the real issue of decreasing people’s actual emissions. Instead we encourage smart travelling, which includes taking direct flights, our one day a week pick up policy (getting picked up as a group instead of individually), providing discounts for the longer volunteers stay or alternatively going to projects which are close by (presently our projects are all within a 45 minute drive of one another).
We are painfully aware that our mere presence is a burden on the biodiversity here, and therefore institute measures to limit our impact as much as we can. All of our accommodation is on the reserves within which we work and we endeavour to change and convert the accommodation environment into a sustainable system.
10% of our profits goes towards our Fund, which help fund local community upliftment initiatives and the purchase of VHF collars and the collaring of priority species to enhance monitoring efforts on reserves we work on. Without your participation, we can not do the work we do: Helping to save priority species (many of them being endangered like wild dogs, cheetah and black rhino) by gaining scientific understanding of their role in the delicate African ecosystem.
100% of volunteers money, is put directly back in to our organisation. Each project provides sustainable employment for the staff and allows them to build personal financial security. All food and supplies are purchased locally, and volunteers are encouraged to buy their souvenirs from small village craft outlets.
50% of all our staff employed hail from local communities surrounding the reserves we work in. Along with this we are presently a Satisfactory Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) Contributor as stipulated by the South African Department of Environment and Tourism. We strive to support other BEE compliant companies in whatever procurement we may have. Structured within our workforce is a learnership programme, whereby we train aspirant local community members to break into the conservation field, and in so doing build up valuable experience and skills needed to further their careers.
A big stumbling block in conservation is the fact that conservation efforts often neglect to take the social impact of local communities into account. It is our belief that conservation is only sustainable if the local community benefits from conservation. Our learnership programme is an example of how we bring social and conservations needs together.
Through money raised by our Fund (which you contribute to), we also run the kids conservation camps. Each month, up to 45 local primary school children spend 4 days on a reserve with our team experiencing the wild (most for the first time), learning about what conservation is about and why they should care about conservation in the first place. This is a vital step in our effort to curb poaching, which becomes a bigger problem every year. Without community understanding and support, poaching can not be stopped.
Reviews of South Africa wildlife reserves conservation expedition
You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the holidays.
I am reborn! Simply the best holiday I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
It was OK
A bit disappointing really
Reviewed on 23 Aug 2012 by Keith Costelloe
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
Monitoring and tracking the wild dogs was a most memorable experience. We'd get up early in the morning and sit in the back of an open jeep and roar off to the last sighting. It was winter. It was cold. It didn't matter as it was a big adventure and the not knowing would we find them or not? Waiting and watching for the next time. Really great fun.
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
For the winter, take lots of warm clothing layers as you can peel off as the weather warms up. Follow the list as you need everything on it. Don't form cliques. Be open to all. Both the wild dogs and the people you are with are part of the whole experience.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Local people were employed, we were in a low impact accommodation. Our payment was a direct contribution to conservation and the monitoring of the wild dogs as other costs were kept low to support the project.
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
It was an excellent experience and much better than just travelling around as you met people and saw wildlife in a natural environment.