12 African Lodges That Are Saving the World
The killing of Zimbabwe’s Cecil the lion resurrected questions surrounding the legitimacy and sustainability of hunting in Africa, and the continent’s conservation challenges. The latest global demographic statistics released by the UN predict that by 2050, Africa’s population will have doubled, putting increasing pressure on natural resources and the continent’s remaining wild places. In contrast, wildlife populations are shrinking as a result of poaching, wildlife trafficking, and habitat loss due to human encroachment and the exploitation of natural resources. But it’s not all doom and gloom on the subcontinent.
‘Rhinos Without Borders’ is an ongoing joint venture between Great Plains Conservation and andBeyond to relocate 100 rhino from South Africa to Botswana, which is known for low density of rhino and the best anti-poaching record on the continent.
Wilderness Safaris, in partnership with the Botswana and South African governments, also has a brilliant rhino-translocation program, moving black and white rhino from South Africa to Botswana.
While most wildlife conservation groups focus on protecting animals from poaching, WildAid is a cutting-edge organization that works to reduce consumer demand for the likes of rhino horn and ivory via high-profile media campaigns in Vietnam and China.
Government-managed national parks and game reserves are increasingly buffered by community owned conservancies and privately managed wildlife concessions which help to protect wildlife while providing a steady flow of income into local communities. By choosing high-end lodges and camps that are modelled on a successful low-impact, high-revenue tourism formula, you’ll know that your tourism dollars are going back into conservation projects and community programs with tangible benefits.
Click through for 12 great lodges and camps where your money is being well-spent.
Singita Sasakwa Lodge, Serengeti, Tanzania
The Issue: Prior to 2002, illegal hunting was placing the annual wildebeest migration under severe pressure and rapidly diminishing resident game populations, ultimately undermining safari tourism.
The Smart Solution: In close collaboration with the Tanzanian Wildlife Division, Singita manages a team of 120 game scouts (most of them ex-poachers), who form a formidable anti-poaching unit. Illegal hunting has been virtually eradicated within the concession, thanks to these foot soldiers.
African Bush Camps Somalisa Camp, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
The Issue: The death of Hwange’s iconic lion, Cecil, was a wake-up call for everyone that Hwange’s lion population is under threat.
The smart solution: Setting up a Lion Conservation and Wildlife Fund to protect Hwange’s lions and focus on the long-term conservation of the park’s wildlife. The new fund will assist Zimbabwe National Parks and stop unsustainable killing of other wildlife in and around Hwange—and hopefully increase their borders, too.
Little Chem Chem, Lake Manyara, Tanzania
The Issue: The need for a critical wildlife corridor for elephant, linking Tarangire National Park with Lake Manyara National Park, and, ultimately, the Ngorogoro Crater. As recently as March 2013, lion and elephant were being shot here.
The Smart Solution: The owners of Chem Chem Safari lodge opened the vintage-style Little Chem Chem Camp in December 2013, creating a 16,000-hectare wildlife conservation corridor that has seen a resurgence of big game in the area. The camp’s presence benefits the local communities in numerous ways, from creating over 140 jobs to sponsoring a televised Kick4Wildlife soccer tournament involving eight villages and 15 soccer teams.
Bale Mountain Lodge, Bale Mountain National Park, Ethiopia
The issue: UNESCO estimates that more mammal species (the endemic Bale monkey and Ethiopian wolf are two examples) would go extinct if the habitats of the Bale Mountains (identified as a biodiversity hotspot by Conservation International) were to decline than if any other area of equivalent size on earth were to disappear.
The smart solution: In order to raise the perceived value of the national park, Bale Mountain Lodge is actively involved in supporting the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation authority, employing and educating local villagers about critical issues like deforestation, and hosting conservation research teams.
Wilderness Safaris Desert Rhino Camp, Namibia
The Issue: Communal land with no formal conservation status in north-western Namibia is home to the world’s last truly wild population of black rhino, but has been coming under increasing threat from poachers.
The smart solution: A successful and unique partnership between Save the Rhino Trust, Wilderness Safaris Namibia, Wilderness Wildlife Trust, and the local conservancies of Anabeb, Sesfontein and Torra, ensures that these rhinos have a greater chance of survival than most, thanks the community’s unanimous support.
andBeyond Mnemba, off the northeast coast of Zanzibar
The Issue: Mnemba island’s beaches are one of three critical nesting sites for green turtles in Tanzania.
The smart solution: Since the conservation team began keeping detailed records and educating subsistence fishermen that ply these waters, an estimated 60,000 green turtles have been born on the island.
andBeyond Phinda, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
The Issue: Finding a sustainable way of partnering with the local communities to ultimately conserve wildlife for future generations.
The Smart Solution: In a groundbreaking deal, 22,000 acres of the reserve were handed over to the ancestral owners of the land as far back as 2008. Today, these communities are seeing the long-term benefits of having a stake in ecotourism. As an example, there are now 28 local schools, which equates to 5000 additional children attending classes and 200 new teacher posts.
Namibia Exclusive Sorris Sorris Camp, Damaraland, Namibia
The issue: The remote, almost forgotten Damaraland offers sanctuary to desert-adapted lion and desert elephant, while the Brandberg Mountain—the highest in Namibia—is a treasure trove of ancient rock paintings.
The smart solution: Opening a luxury camp here among the Damara tribe brings revenue to these traditional communities and helps preserve their heritage rock painting sites.
Azura Quilalea, Quirimbas archipelago, Mozambique
The Issue: Illegal fishing, over-fishing, and unsustainable fishing methods in and around the Quirimbas Marine National Park, which is depleting marine resources and damaging corals.
The Smart Solution: Azura set up the Rainbow Fund, the first registered charity of its kind in Mozambique, to support a variety of community and environmental projects. The fund works closely with the marine national park’s rangers and local communities to eradicate illegal fishing boats from the area and educate people about sustainable fishing methods. It also sponsors medical supplies for informal clinics in communities on neighbouring islands.
Wilderness Safaris Linkwasha Camp, Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe
The Issue: Growing conflict between humans and wildlife on the fringes of the park.
The Smart Solution: In partnership with Children in the Wilderness, Wilderness Safaris has adopted a multi-pronged approach to environmental education and community empowerment in Zimbabwe, benefiting both students and teachers.
Fregate Island, Seychelles
The Issue: Managing a luxury resort’s unsustainable carbon footprint versus guest expectations.
The Smart Solution: State-of-the-art, fuel-efficient generators were installed to power the island as well as a wastewater plant that converts wastewater to 95 percent pure usable water for irrigation. Golf carts are powered by hybrid technology, and speedboats by new Cummins ultra-fuel-saving engines. LED and CFC lighting have been installed throughout the property.
Asilia Africa Naboisho Camp, Maasai Mara conservancy, Kenya
The Issue: Overgrazing and conflict between the Maasai people, their livestock and resident lion prides, and other big game on the edges of the Maasai Mara reserve.
The Smart Solution: Five years ago, Maasai landowners signed an agreement to form the Maasai Naboisho Conservancy, a 50,000-acre community pastoralist and wildlife conservation area. Today, the area has one of the highest densities of lion in the Mara eco-system and a thriving population of numerous animals, including buffalo, eland, and warthog. Communities are also thriving with a monthly income from the land lease, employment within the Conservancy, as well as improved medical facilities and schooling.
Grootbos Nature Reserve, Walker Bay, South Africa
The issue: Without an awareness among the local youth about the importance of rehabilitating and conserving the natural habitat, the rich biodiversity of this coastal belt would be lost forever.
The smart solution: The Dibanisa Youth Environmental Education and Sport Project is an after-school, action-packed program that combines sport and nature-based excursions to stimulate environmental appreciation of the marine environment and the indigenous fynbos. The project has transformed the lives of over 700 children in the past year.