Sometimes we need to take a step back and just remember we have no greater right to be here than any other animal - David Attenborough. No truer words, David. No truer words. And while the whole planet could benefit from subscribing to that school of thought, Africa particularly springs to mind when thinking about the need to conserve precious wildlife and ecologies. And to celebrate their achievements, here are five of our favourite wildlife conservation projects that you can get involved with during your African safari…
AfriCat Foundation – Okonjima, Namibia
AfriCat is a non-profit organisation that rehabilitates cheetahs, wild dogs and hyenas, giving visitors the opportunity to see these beautiful carnivores in their natural environment. When visiting the Okonjima Game Reserve and staying in one of its lodges, visitors help contribute to the foundation's fundraising towards research and rehabilitation. For a more hands-on experience, we can arrange guests to join researchers in the field and to visit the AfricCat headquarters in Namibia to learn more about projects and their conservation efforts.
Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge – Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda
Built in partnership with the African Wildlife Foundation, Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is a luxury community-owned hotel which supports conservation and sustainable tourism by providing employment for over 50 local people, benefiting the surrounding community as well as wildlife. Sabyinyo Silverback Lodge is close to the Volcanoes National Park's population of gorillas and so is an excellent accommodation option for those wanting close access to gorilla trekking.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy protects a number of Kenya's endangered species including 12% of the country's black and white rhinos, and the world's single largest population of Grevy's zebra. Responsible tourism plays a huge role in this valuable conservation work where funding raised from tourism is reinvested back into their core conservation programmes.
Rhinos Without Borders, Great Plains Foundation – South Africa and Botswana
The Rhinos Without Borders initiative, run by the insanely talented wildlife photographers and cinematographers, Beverly and Dereck Joubert, is relocating rhinos from existing, high density populations in South Africa, which are unfortunately attracting large numbers of poaching, to Botswana where the wild has low densities of rhino and the best anti-poaching record in Africa. So far, over 80 rhinos have been successfully relocated with 20 more to hopefully join this year. But at $45,000 a pop, funding is extremely important!
Copyright: Beverly Joubert, Rhinos Without Borders
Conservation South Luangwa – South Luangwa, Zambia
Sponsored by one of our favourite conservation charities, the Tusk Trust, Conservation South Luangwa works to protect the wildlife of the South Luangwa National Park from poaching with anti-poaching patrols, de-snaring activities and daily aerial surveillance. In 2014, Conservation South Luangwa also started Zambia's first detection dog unit which can identify ivory, leopard skins, firearms and bushmeat at road blocks and borders.