World Wildlife Day was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on the 20th December 2013; the very first of what will now be an annual event celebrated just last week on the 3rd of March. This follows hot on the heels of February’s London conference on the illegal wildlife trade, the talks attended by Prince Charles and The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William.
With wildlife top of the agenda we’ve put together a list of locations where you can get closer to Africa’s animal kingdom – many of the projects and parks we visit on our overland expeditions, small group safaris and voluntours making a real difference both on the conservation and community front.
- At Botswana’s Khama wildlife sanctuary you’ll find white and black rhino, over 30 other animal species and more than 230 species of birds. Community based and with conservation at its core, the project also provides economic benefits to the local people through tourism and the sustainable use of natural resources.
- Safari with the black and green Mamba, the Egyptian Cobra and more at Tanzania’s Arusha Snake Park . For those who dare, there’s even the chance to hold a live one. every visitor making a contribution to a free health clinic and other charitable projects.
- Planet Baobab in Botswana is a new addition to several of our 2014 tours. As with all wildlife viewing there are no guarantees, but this is one of the best places to meet the loveable meerkats. Cuddle up with the colony in the summer as you’ll avoid the crowds.
- The Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is a home for many of South Africa’s abandoned, injured and poisoned wildlife. Already featured on National Geographic, one of the organisation’s greatest successes is their successful Serval Breeding Project – over 160 already released into the wild.
- In Zimbabwe you’ll find the Lion Alert Rehabilitation Program, the scheme springing to fame on the hit UK TV series “Lion Country.” A visit here means you can go walking with lions and if you’re lucky watch them practicing their stalking and hunting skills – the opportunity to hone these instincts key to their final release into the wild.
- The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is one of the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation programs in the world. One of its main conservation activities is the “Orphans Project,” the initiative offering hope for Kenya’s threatened elephant and rhino populations as they struggle against the threat of poaching.
- The Mara might be best known for the Annual Migration, but voluntour on our 27-day Masai Mara Conservation & Wildlife Safari and combine the yearly spectacle with conservation. Give a little and get a lot more back, the first 13-days spent helping to collect data out in the field, and assisting with research on the Mara’s lion population.
- Snorkel with the world’s largest fish in Mozambique, its southern coastline home to the densest population of Whale sharks (Rhincodon typus) in the world – over 300 different whale sharks identified in the last few years
- Big Five safaris are still top of the Africa bucket list, but many people also view gorilla trekking as one of the ultimate wildlife encounters. Habituated to humans and used to having us at close quarters, the one-hour experience is spellbinding. The treks generate valuable funding for anti-poaching measures, and with the ability to finance more patrols and protect the gorillas from the poachers’ lethal snares, everyone who treks is making a genuine contribution to their ongoing survival.
- Of the estimated 3,000 painted dogs in the wild, Hwange lays claim to over a sixth of the total population; Zimbabwe’s largest national park home to the celebrated Wild Dog Project. Their commitment to anti-poaching measures and rehabilitation continue to have a positive effect on the number of what is now an endangered species.
Written by Acacia Sales and Marketing