Kenya wilderness safari

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This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Kenya wilderness safari

Environment

The company that organises this vacation is a multi-award-winning responsible travel company. They try to ensure that nothing they do at home (in UK) or abroad compromises the environment or wildlife or exploits people. They believe in ensuring that travelers are well-informed, as an informed traveler tend to be a more respectful and sensitive traveler. They also believe in giving back to the country, people wildlife and environments which are affected by tourism.

The operator in Kenya also owns the camps. These environmentally friendly Eco-Camps have been established in exclusive Wildlife Conservancies and are carefully managed to ensure that local communities, the environment and visitors benefit from the Conservancy concept. The concept of wildlife conservancies in Kenya was devised to address the escalating issue of lost indigenous habitat and the resulting impact on the country’s unique wildlife. Division of land, over-grazing and intensive farming were increasing, as was conflict between landowners and wildlife.

In 1997 the operator signed an agreement with a Maasai community to establish the first Conservancy (Selenkay) on 13,000 acres of their land in the Amboseli eco-system. Following the success of Selenkay Conservancy, in 2005 they set up the Ol Kinyei Conservancy in the Mara eco-system which was initially 8,000 acres and later expanded to 18,700 acres. This was the first conservancy of its kind in the Mara based on the concept of land being leased and set aside as a conservancy exclusively for wildlife, with no human settlement, and using the formula of a minimum of 700 acres of conservancy for every guest tent and a maximum of 12 tents for any one safari camp, to ensure a low-impact form of tourism.

The partnership with the local communities in setting up the conservancies has made a significant contribution to improving conservation of the wildlife and habitat of these areas. Within just a short time of conception each conservancy saw a significant increase in wildlife numbers and a regeneration of vegetation in areas that were previously over-grazed by livestock.

At Selenkay, elephants returned after an absence of twenty years and in the Mara conservancies the number of lions increased very quickly with several residential prides totalling over 120 lions in an area of 100,000 acres, while breeding cheetah took up residence in addition to an influx of other species. Today, the conservancies support a broad range of species in a protected environment that has returned to its natural state.

The Porini Camps are run and maintained with conservation of the environment at the forefront. They have a written environmental policy for water, land, energy, solid waste and sewage which is adhered to by the camp management and pride themselves in having highly qualified safari guides to enhance the experience by educating the guests about the flora, fauna and people of the surrounding areas.

Porini Mara Camp is included in the World Tourism Organisation’s Directory of Best Practice in Ecotourism as a positive example from Kenya, and all the Porini Camps have been awarded a Gold Eco-Rating by Ecotourism Kenya who promote environmental and social responsibility practices within the tourism industry.

The UK head office has a good policy of recycling, reducing and re-using (electricity, paper, plastic etc). They also buy only fair-trade goods such as tea, coffee, and use biodegradable detergents etc. They also make a point of buying only top eco-rated equipment (e.g. monitors).

Community

The aim of the operator is to work closely with communities living alongside national parks and wildlife reserves to help them derive benefits from conserving wildlife species and the indigenous habitat. They can earn an income from eco-tourism from monthly rental payments for setting aside areas of their land as wildlife conservancies, thereby creating wildlife dispersal areas outside the parks, increasing wildlife numbers and species variety, habitat and biodiversity.

The view of the operator is that the key to conserving Kenya’s spectacular flora and fauna outside the parks is to engage the local communities and to provide tangible benefits from eco-tourism that exceed the returns that they are able to generate from any other form of land utilization such as farming.

The areas to be used as conservancies were chosen by the Maasai landowners and then were vacated by the community and set aside for wildlife so that they could be leased out as conservancies and utilised for eco-tourism to generate an income and economic benefits for the local community. As a result of the communities receiving direct benefits from wildlife there has been a change in attitude towards the concept of wildlife conservation.

A monthly rental (that increases annually) is paid to the Maasai landowners as a lease for all the land in the conservancies and the company give first priority to family members of the local community for jobs in the camps and conservancies so that over 95% of the staff are drawn from the local people whose parcels of land have been joined together to form the different conservancies. There are over 1,000 Maasai families who are directly benefiting from the conservancies which they are involved in leasing and managing. Their lives have improved with a guaranteed income from the lease and less reliance on livestock as their sole income source while many have members of their families earning a livelihood in the conservancies in which they have a stake.

In terms of information, all travelers are given guidelines on Traveling with Respect, which includes advice on cultural aspects of your travels as well as protecting the environment. For any community-owned or run project, they also have a Community Tourism Information sheet for travelers to help explain how to get the best from the experience, and what to expect (good and bad). For trekkers, the company have a Porter Policy in place, a copy of which is given to clients. They also have a Responsible Wildlife Viewing guide too. For anything more specific, e.g. rules about visiting gorillas, this information is also given to clients. In addition, they offer more information about the native people and cultures in a destination country, which all adds to a traveler being more aware.

The company works with partners on the ground in each destination, and only uses local guides. They also primarily promote locally owned services (hotels etc). They have eco-rated about 300 properties worldwide which they work with closely, so they are very clear which accommodations have good environmental and social responsibility credentials. This information is used to ensure that any traveler wanting to ensure they are really making a difference, can choose between one property and another on eco-issues.

They also promote community-owned projects and services where applicable and possible. Indeed, they were instrumental in setting up two community-owned ventures in Tanzania and Peru.

The company backs a charity with funds and administration. This is a registered UK charity whose principle aim is to relieve the poverty of indigenous communities in areas outside of the UK which are affected by tourism. The charity backs poverty alleviation, education, cultural preservation and conservation projects within these regions. It has backed schools, clinics, micro-business projects and more. It is a charity we encourage our travelers to donate to if they would like to give something back.

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