2017 marks the 24th annual World Travel Awards that ‘acknowledges, rewards and celebrates excellence across all key sectors of the travel, tourism and hospitality industries.’
For the past 10 years, African Impact have been nominated as Africa’s Leading Conservation Company in these awards, and this year is no different!
The awards themselves are recognized globally as the ultimate hallmark of industry excellence and highlight our commitment to responsible tourism that positively promotes - and contributes - to wildlife conservation efforts on the continent.
We believe that 2017 is the year we are going to win!
What conservation is African Impact involved in?
Since 2004 when African Impact was founded, we have expanded dramatically, and currently run volunteer initiatives in 11 different countries in Africa.
The majority of our pioneering wildlife conservation programs that involve international volunteers focus around wildlife research that is used to aid conservation, effect tourism regulations to benefit wildlife, or provide information for on-going research.
Further to this data collection, our volunteers actively undertake physical conservation work, including erosion control, alien plant species removal, fence-building, poaching patrols and snare-sweeps, to name but a few.
Conservation education is another key element of a volunteer’s time with us. We believe that without the involvement of the local community, truly sustainable conservation of the animal species and the environment in which they live is not possible.
Why should African Impact be named Africa's Leading Conservation Company this year?
In the past year, we are extremely proud to have seen our conservation programs grow and develop. Let’s take a look at a handful of our initiatives and share some success stories!
Our Greater Kruger Region Research Projects:
At our project base in the Greater Kruger Area of South Africa, ‘Big 5’ wildlife research is our primary focus. By training and involving volunteers from around the world in the daily monitoring of the ‘Big 5’, we are providing consistent, accurate and reliable data to internationally recognized organizations, including WWF, Save the Elephants, The African Lion and Environmental Research Trust, and more.
In the past year alone, the project hours that we have achieved equates to one person working 24 hours a day for roughly 80 years:
- Total Volunteers - 228
- Data Collection hours - 15 hours / 395, 818 hours (volunteer hours)
- Analysis and lab work - 4 hours/143, 047 hours (volunteer hours)
- Completed reports - 55
- Physical conservation work - 756 hours/172, 368 hours (volunteer hours)
- Conservation Education - 5 hours/60,306 hours (volunteer hours)
Total Project - 771, 539 volunteer hours (Equal to one person working 24 hours a day for roughly 80 years)
While the project does focus on all of the 'Big 5' species, we do focus particuarly on leopards. While leopards have been studied within protected areas and reserves, we have dedicated 19 months to restoring key leopard habitat and collecting detailed data on a leopard population outside of formally protected areas, where individual ranges are distributed across multiple private properties with different land uses (e.g. agriculture, game farming, tourism). It is in these areas where the need for leopard data is greatest.
This information has been shared with research partners, including Leopard ID Project South Africa, thus contributing to more knowledge and information about the entire leopard population in the region.
Our Masai Mara Conservation Program
The Maasai Mara Reserve in Kenya is world-famous for its spectacular wildlife, but behind the scenes, human-wildlife conflict, poaching, land mismanagement and the decline of income from tourism is threatening the future of this wildlife haven.
As diverse and complex the threats, so are the solutions, and our volunteers get involved in a number of initiatives that ensure the Mara remains a valuable source of income for the country. While research our volunteers undertake on big cats and elephants in the area is invaluable, it is our work with the local communities that really provides sustainable solutions for the whole ecosystem.
One such example of this is our work with the Koiyaki Guiding School; based in the Naboisho Conservancy that forms part of the greater Maasai Mara conservation area.
85% of tour guides in the Masai Mara are not from the area, with only a handful of the local people benefitting from the multi-billion-shilling tourism industry due to a lack of the required skills. The Koiyaki project is an initiative to place guiding in the Mara back in the hands of the Maasai tribes – after all, it is their own “back yard”.
Volunteers assist teachers at the guiding school by teaching language, culture, administration and computer skills.
Further to this important work with the Maasai, our volunteers also contribute greatly to conservation education in the area, working with the Olesere Primary School in the neighboring Olesere village. Volunteers run an environmental club once a week with selected students to develop English skills through interactive methods, and encourage a passion for wildlife, the environment and conservation. These students will then be responsible for transferring their learning and skills to other students at the school through workshops and presentations.
Our Dolphin Conservation Program in Zanzibar:
Dolphin tourism is booming in Zanzibar, but there are no tourism regulations here and the dolphin species that call these crystal waters home are at risk.
Based in the beautiful and remote fishing village of Kizimkazi in the Menai Bay Conservation Area, our Dolphin Research Project is working with the local people to promote marine conservation and protect the dolphins and their habitat.
Together with the Institute of Marine Science Zanzibar, our volunteers help with monitoring how human-dolphin interaction affects the way the dolphins live and behave. Promoting sustainable dolphin tourism in the area by empowering the local community can go a long way to protecting these amazing animals.
We’ve also developed Ethical Dolphin Tour workshops, which our volunteers help run, that educate local boat drivers on dolphins, their behaviour and how to run a responsible tour. Thus far, we have trained 4 local boat drivers, encouraged tour operators to use these drivers, and our workshops have been given the green light by the Ministry of Tourism for Zanzibar.
Further to these amazing achievements, we have successfully designed and built a dolphin information board in Kizimkazi, the first source of information for volunteers and tourists alike, who would like to know more about the dolphin species in the area and ethical practices during their engagements.
The African Lion and Environmental Research Trust: Antelope Park, Victoria Falls and Livingstone:
We are also extremely proud of our ongoing relationship with our wildlife charity, The African Lion and Environmental Research Trust (ALERT), and work in conjunction with them in 3 locations across Zimbabwe and Zambia; Antelope Park, Victoria Falls and Livingstone.
ALERT’s long-term Rehabilitate and Release into the Wild Program (of which our volunteers support across all 3 destinations) has been a roaring success thus far, with 2 prides of lions successfully release into a semi-wild environment.
These lions have been released, as prides, into fenced, managed reserves where they have had the opportunity to function as a wild pride. Within these release areas, the prides have given birth to cubs that are raised naturally, without human interference.
We look forward to the final phase of the program, when the cubs born in the release phase are translocated for reintroduction into appropriate national parks and reserves that are seeking to restore lost, or augment declining, lion populations.
While ALERT is predominantly known for their lion conservation efforts, they also invest hugely in the conservation of other species, including hyenas and elephants. In the past year, our volunteers have supported research studies into elephant migration, human-elephant conflict and been part of the first study of its kind into hyenas in the Zambezi National Park.
How can you help African Impact's conservation efforts?
- Vote for us as Africa’s Leading Conservation Company! Voting closes on the 21st
- Support and share the amazing successes we’ve achieved on these projects, by following each project’s Facebook page:
- Follow us on Instagram!
- Join us as a volunteer!