The same can be said for going on a safari. Some of us are after the adrenaline rush that comes with seeing great animals in the wild. Others want an education – to learn more about the wild. Whatever our reason is for going on a safari to Africa, one takeaway that none of us will miss is the painfully glaring fact that the wild, and by extension, the animals that inhabit it, are in dire need of protection.
So many of Earth’s greatest animals are on the verge of extinction no thanks to human development. While tourism to Africa has certainly helped bring awareness to the plight of our wildlife, it is our responsibility as travelers to do what we can to protect and conserve the environment and the delicate ecosystem that our wildlife depends on to survive.
At BookAllSafaris.com, we encourage you to be eco-conscious on a daily basis. With that, here are some useful tips you can do so while you travel:
Avoid The Use of Plastic
Plastic bottles are a major problem at any tourist attraction including on safaris. The heat in the African continent can be particularly grueling, causing tourists to bring bottles of water with them on safari trips. While it is important to stay hydrated in the heat, it is also important to be aware of proper disposals of bottles.
To minimize the possibility of bottles being left out, thereby polluting the environment, buy large 5L bottles of water and decant them. Pack with you a good BPA free and reusable water bottle that you can refill over the course of your travels. You are much less likely to leave behind a good quality bottle than you are a cheap, disposable one.
Do try to also limit the use of plastic as you travel, be it plastic bags, plastic containers or plastic utensils. Instead, opt for an eco-friendly reusable bag. If you have no other choice than to use a plastic bag, have a bag ready where you can place them in so that you don’t forget to take them home and dispose them at a proper recycling bin.
Use Alternative Transportation
Where possible, take an alternative mode of transportation to reduce your carbon footprint. Hike where you can and always opt for smaller vehicles. If you tour provider offers the option of taking hybrid cars, do take that instead. If you are going on a self-drive safari, be sure to turn the ignition off when you can and drive responsibly!
Take Only Photos & Leave Only Footprints
When on a safari trip, it is very tempting to take home little trinkets that you find along the way as memorabilia. While taking home a stone or two may seem harmless, do remember that the ecosystem, which you are treading on, is extremely delicate. Your actions may have an impact, no matter small or great, on the environment. Be courteous visitors and take nothing but photographs on your journey through the wild.
When out buying a souvenir, be extra aware of what you are buying. Don’t be afraid to ask what the items are made of and where they were made. Be conscious about what you are buying and always ask yourself if you are supporting illegal poachers with your purchase.
The sale of ivory, for example, has increased elephant poaching in recent years. Ivory is used to make jewelry, billiard balls, piano keys and so on. While new ivory is strictly banned, antique ivory falls into a loophole and can still be legally purchased. Be extra cautious of this and make sure you avoid buying them, new or antique.
Join Volunteer Programs
Image credit: Projects Abroad
While you are in Africa, take the opportunity to join local volunteer programs that will not only equip you with more information about the wildlife population but also offer you a chance to really make a difference and change lives or situations for the better. Helping others on a volunteer program not only helps them but also yourselves as you potentially gain a better understanding and appreciation of your own lives.
There are many different volunteer programs available depending on your interest and length of stay. From volunteer teaching to conservation work and even farming, you can choose any one that ignites your passion. You can also turn your safari experience into a conservation experience when you choose a conservation safari!
Immerse in The Local Culture
To truly understand the lives the locals live, try to immerse yourself into their local culture. Learn the language, even just a little. Be open to the different customs and embrace them. Be curious about their lifestyle and their way of life. On a safari, learn and respect the local customs and take them as your own.
Most importantly, help the local community to sustain by buying local produce and locally manufactured goods. Helping their economy thrive through this simple way of buying local will help the community develop and not resort to poaching and killing. Supporting local business will also reduce environmental impact as a whole as local businesses are able to make more local purchases and requiring less transportation. In the long run, this equates to less pollution, less congestion, less habitat loss.
Make a difference in your safari adventures. Lessen your carbon footprint by traveling on a canoe safari!