For most people, going on a safari is a once in a lifetime opportunity. For a lucky few – such as the people who operate safari tours in Africa – it becomes a way of life.
For these people, every day is an opportunity to interact with nature. They are privileged to personally experience some of the most intimate aspects of the wild. From the birth of a lion cub, to the hunt and capture of prey, the natural world is simply fascinating. There are few things in this world that will inspire and fill you with wonder as much as witnessing the majesty of nature undisturbed.
However, it pays to highlight that last word: undisturbed. Is it really possible to attend a safari whilst leaving the environment untouched? How do acts of tourism affect natural wildlife? If a safari is on your bucket list, issues like these might have you questioning whether it’s really such a great idea after all.
Allow us to introduce ethical safaris
Ethical safari companies practice responsible tourism to make it possible for tourists to enjoy the safari experience whilst promoting ethical standards and practices. These standards include protecting the health, safety and wellbeing of safari wildlife. For example, an ethical safari would never promote interaction with the animals that might harm them or disturb their natural environment, such as petting, handling, or hunting. Ethical safaris operate for the purpose of fostering education and appreciation for the natural world, rather than sportsmanship or exploitation of wildlife.
By practicing responsible tourism now, ethical safaris afford us the opportunity to observe nature – undisturbed – long into the future.
Responsible tourism… what’s it all about?
Simply put, responsible tourism is tourism that benefits the environment, animals, and people. It’s about respect for the ethical, racial, and political sensitivities of different cultures. There are a lot of facets to responsible tourism – and plenty of ways to unwittingly cross the line – however for the most part, this respect can be upheld through common sense.
With nature-based tourism such as safaris, we need to be looking at the impact our actions have on the natural environment. In order to thrive, natural ecosystems work towards maintaining a consistent balance. When something upsets this balance – for example, human intrusion – the natural system is disturbed. Food sources might be eliminated, or habitats destroyed. Consistently intruding upon the environment can devastate the natural inhabitants.
Our goal is to learn more about and enjoy our world while respecting that we have an obligation to minimize the impact of our actions. Protecting the earth’s natural environments ensures that species of animals and plants don’t risk extinction. It’s a promise to future generations that we will do our part to not only leave the world the way it was found, but hopefully to also make it a better place. Without a commitment to responsible and ethical tourism, much of what we take for granted today might someday only be experienced through history books. We’ve been trusted with the earth; it’s our job to protect it.
What to look for in an ethical safari
It’s nearly impossible to attend a safari and not be in complete awe of the world around you. But to maintain the natural environments of the animals, it is crucial that we take care to impede upon them as little as possible.
Before booking a safari, it’s a good idea to do a little research. Start by looking at each company, their mission statements and commitment to the community. Call and ask questions. If you’re unsure as to how to go about this, a travel agent who has experience in helping people find ethical safaris is a valuable resource. Finally, you can also contact South Africa National Parks to learn more.
Here are 8 things to be mindful of before booking your safari…
- Safety should always be the number one priority. Your safari provider should have a strict set of rules for behaviors in place to protect both you and the animals.
- There should be a focus on understanding that the animals aren’t there for entertainment purposes only. Guests should walk away from an ethical safari having been educated.
- Expect to view natural animal behaviors. During an ethical safari, you should never observe an animal being coerced into performing tricks or other showman-like behavior.
- Look for safari providers that are committed to the local community or involved in conservation projects. These providers are more likely to adhere to ethical practices.
- Ethical safaris should support sustainable practices. There should be little – if any – focus on souvenirs, especially those that are sourced directly from the environment. Avoid sales of items crafted using animal parts, natural artifacts or endangered plant life.
- Ethical safaris will not permit the handling of wildlife; don’t expect to be able to cuddle the baby animals.
- Avoid booking nighttime safaris unless they take place in an area where there are nocturnal animals only. Headlights, flashlights and camera flashes are disruptive to the nighttime habitat and sleep patterns of most animals.
- Ethical safaris will limit the number of vehicles and attendees per safari so as to not overstimulate or intrude upon the animals and environment.
The number one goal of an ethical safari provider is to protect and preserve the health and safety of the animals and their environment – and you! No safari should ever endanger any for the sake of tourism.
If you’re interested in booking an ethical safari, we can guide you in the right direction. We at DK Grand Safaris are committed to responsible tourism, and offer a variety of safari services to fulfil your bucket list. We want to host you on one of our amazing adventures, like a Kenyan Photographic Safari, Masai Mara Migration Safari, Gorilla Trek, or other unique experience throughout Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia. Contact us today to learn more.
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