Ecotourism Making an Impact: Minimum Footprint Perspective
In 1920, there were an estimated 120 elephants left in the whole of South Africa. Today, Kruger National Park alone has over 9,000 elephants and 20,000 buffaloes. There are many success stories about conservation and rehabilitation of wildlife in South Africa. The white rhino has also been brought back from the brink of extinction and now flourishes in the Kruger area.
The Black Rhino is considered by many to be the rarest Rhino in Africa. There are only 3,000 left in the world and 70% of the world’s rhino population is in South Africa. Fourteen black rhino have been reintroduced to Kwande Private Game Reserve. The vast majority have embedded micro chips so if they are poached, the horn can be located. Thanks to tourism, the rhinos are more valuable to the local population alive, than dead. Historically, the endangered rhinos have been killed for their horns, which are considered by Asians to be an aphrodisiac. The highly-prized horn is also used to decorate ceremonial daggers in the Middle East.
Kruger lies between the Crocodile and Sabie Rivers. It encompasses some of the richest wildlife regions on the continent, with roaming African elephant, lion, leopard, spotted hyena, giraffe, buffalo, cheetah, wild dog and white rhino. The area wasn’t always a protected area for wild game or an ecotourism destination.
In 1884, when gold prospectors and professional hunters were flooding into the unknown Lowveld, South African President Paul Kruger first proposed a game sanctuary. It took fourteen years for his vision to be realized.
Over the years dedicated conservationists have ensured the continued existence of Kruger National Park. Today it is one the largest wildlife sanctuaries in South Africa, and one of the biggest controlled nature reserves in the world.
Conservation Corporation Africa
CC Africa is deeply committed to the renaissance of Africa, its wildlife and people. Projects run by CC Africa range from building classrooms and clinics to assisting with the supply of clean drinking water and AIDs education; from creating job opportunities and funding scholarships to establishing micro-businesses in crafts, vegetable gardens, beekeeping and sewing. Each lodge has a region-specific Eco-Guide in every room, to inform guests about the history and natural wonders of the area, and to pique their interest in conservation of these precious natural resources. They publish a wildlife e-zine, which also provides frequently updated information on the fauna and flora of the reserves.
The highly trained, professional and passionate CC Africa guides and trackers play a critical role in promoting greater consciousness of the possibilities and responsibilities of eco-tourism on this continent. On wildlife drives, they explain how tourists play an important part in their dream to create a model of wise land management. The passion and knowledge of the guides galvanizes hope for the advancement of green frontiers and the permanent re-establishment of the planet’s threatened species and wild spaces.
Why You Should Care
“The world is changing faster than ever before. Growing human populations and expanding consumption are placing great pressure on biological diversity. Biodiversity plays an important role in protecting life and making it resilient to the pressures brought about by change” explains Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General.
There is nothing quite so haunting as hearing a and being close enough to see their amber eyes. There is nothing quite as thrilling as coming upon a herd of impala standing in the middle of the bush while a leopard stalks them nearby. The antelopes raise their heads, black-tipped ears twitch and swivel towards the safari jeep, short tails flicker from side to side, alert but not yet alarmed. On safari in South Africa, my longing to embrace the untamed wilderness was fulfilled. As eco-conscious travelers, we should be alert like the impalas—alert and ready to meet the challenge of keeping these precious places intact for future generations.
Ngala and Kwande are both private game reserves run by Conservation Corporation Africa
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