A great part of safari tourism in Africa is ensuring that you take part in an ethical African safari. Whilst planning your bucket list trip to Africa, it’s still important to do your due diligence and research your tour operator. Do they care about wildlife conservation initiatives, sustainable tourism, the wellness of endangered species, and ethical practices? You don’t want to choose a tour operator and later find out that they exploit animals or participate in activities like shooting trophy animals.
Thankfully, many governments around Africa have made strides with wildlife conservation and have started conservation programs to make safari experiences ethical. There are also many anti-poaching patrols in wildlife areas now to counter the poaching of wildlife such as elephants and lions.
Below are a few areas to consider when browsing ethical safari companies.
Hands down the most important part of an ethical safari vacation is making sure the safari company acts in the best interest of the animals. Ethical safaris will show care for the natural habitat in the safari parks and contain safari-goers in safari vehicles or at a distance away from the animals. Even if you want to snap a good photo, stay a good distance apart or stay in the safari vehicle and use a zoom or a proper lens. Any ethical safari will practice good safari etiquette while providing an awe-inspiring experience.
Steer clear of companies that encourage tourists to use flash photography and don’t care about the group keeping a safe distance from the animals. You can take note of any potential red flags such as whether they pay the park fees or if they permit elephant riding. Since elephants aren’t able to support the weight of humans on its back, it can lead to permanent spinal injuries. In general, there should be no human contact whatsoever with wild animals, whether at national parks or wildlife reserves. After all, you wouldn’t want someone to come up and bother you in your natural surroundings!
Reviews can be a good way to see what others thought of the safari experience and whether the safari operators are mindful of animal conservation. Many safaris, unfortunately, might only be concerned with making money and not with the welfare of the wild animals.
Many safaris in Africa will involve taking a trip to a local market to buy souvenirs. Buying items made in the local community will help drive the local economy, as tourism is an important primary source of income for many locals. Finding souvenirs made with sustainable materials such as wood is a fantastic, ethical way to contribute to the local people.
Be sure to avoid buying animal products such as ivory, shells, and fur on your ethical safari vacation, as you don’t want to contribute to the illegal wildlife trade and increase the demand.
Other than the animals, many forget that the local communities are also a part of alluring Africa. An interesting fact you might not know is that wildlife conservation is only successful long-term with the involvement of the community.
While famed national parks in Africa like Maasai Mara in Kenya give a portion of park fees to local communities, visiting conservancies is the best way to pay respect to the local people. This is because the local people control the land and thus benefit from safaris there.
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