Posts Tagged With: tourism

What are 8 billion tourists worth?

Money talks. It’s the basis for corruption and the decimation of wildlife. BUT it’s also paramount to protecting our animals and their wilderness.

YOUR tourism dollars and YOUR choice on spending them can make a difference.

eco-tourism-cartoon

In 2015 PLOS Biology did a global study to try to calculate the value of ecotourism. They estimated that protected nature areas attract 8 billion visits per year. (That’s more than 1 visit per person on earth.)

Researchers then calculated how much 8 billion visits are worth and came up with $600 billion per year.

In Africa alone, it is estimated by 2030 some countries will see 134 million tourists. –United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

Tourism stabilizes communities by providing jobs, protects the wildlife by making them the focus of these jobs, and of course provides an opportunity of a lifetime to the tourist.

hyena-ffr

 

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Unusual Rhino Encounter in Kenya

Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya: Guests were in for a rare treat on safari. They happened upon this group of rhinos. The unusual part? It was a black rhino mom and calf meeting up peacefully with a white rhino mom and calf.

white and black meet at lewa april 2016 4

white and black meet at lewa april 2016 1

white and black meet at lewa april 2016 3

white and black meet at lewa april 2016 2

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Mixed Messages are killing our elephants and rhinos

To crush or hoard?

That is the dilemma for African countries with ivory stockpiles. It’s a polarizing debate. Destruction eliminates any and all possibility at corruption, it will not find its way back on the market and it sends a clear message ivory NOT attached to the animal has no value.

But the other side believes saving and selling the ivory allows the money to be rolled back over into conservation efforts for the animals, and the communities.

The problem is that elephants and rhinos exist throughout the African continent, making the “product” available in multiple countries, and each country has its own stance on stockpiling. So while Mozambique destroys ivory, directly across the border in Zimbabwe the country stores it, awaiting an opportunity to sell. This creates mixed messages and a lack of unity.

horns and tusks by reuters

Seized horns and tusks on display in Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters

Selling Ivory Funds Communities

Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa have a stock and sell take on ivory.

Namibia  Minister of Environment and Tourism Pohamba Shifeta has said destroying the ivory and horn goes against government policy. Instead the stock is auctioned off to other interested countries.

“We will get a lot of money and the proceeds will go to state coffers to alleviate poverty. Also, we feel it is not an effective deterrent in fighting poaching,” said Shifeta.

While Botswana states it is “out of the question” to sell rhino horn, they’ve just announced they will seek permission to sell their ivory stockpile after the 10 years moratorium with CITES has expired in 2018.

Good news for the rhinos, considering the fact that Botswana is key to future rhino populations with the current translocations taking place from Kruger National Park.  Not so great for elephants.

Overall,  an interesting proposition considering the country’s strong stance on anti-poaching, and the large stake in their wildlife. 90% of tourists in Botswana come for the wildlife.

bots tourism

The wildlife tourism industry is estimated to continue to grow throughout the coming years, making it an invaluable component to the economy. Graph: World Travel & Tourism Council

 

 Destroy Ivory, Stop Poaching

Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi and Ethiopia have all held public burns/crushes to destroy their stockpiles of horn and ivory.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) spokesman Paul Udoto says the illegal ivory has no economic value to them, saying that “the selling is what has brought us to the state of poaching that we are in.”

kenya ivory burn bbc

Kenya burned 15 tonnes of ivory in March. President Kenyatta has vowed the entire stockpile will be burned this year. AFP photo

One-off Sales

So the hoard and sell leads to occasional one-off sales of a set amount for a limited time.

It is the belief of some that by CITES issuing these sales of horn or ivory, it fans the flames and results in a poaching spike, sending elephant and rhino populations into a tailspin. Afterall how can we  allow LEGAL one-off sales of a product AND simultaneously strive at reducing demand for the same product? Confusing to say the least.

The experts who work with elephants are in agreement.

cynthia moss 1It is very discouraging having to fight the battle to save elephants once again. The 1989 ban helped elephants to recover in most parts of Africa. Now even in Amboseli we’re losing elephants to ivory poachers for the first time in many years. The sale of any ivory–legal or not–is creating demand. No one needs ivory. It is a beautiful substance, but the only ones who need it are elephants.

– Cynthia Moss, Amboseli Elephant Research Project

ian redmond 2As long as ivory is valued as a commodity, every tusker is at risk from poachers, and only where anti-poaching efforts are sufficient will elephants survive. Anti-poaching costs money and lives. Banning the ivory trade has been the single-most effective and economical way to slow the loss of elephants across their whole range – not just where they can be protected by anti-poaching units. 

Ian Redmond, OBE Wildlife biologist and Ambassador for the UNEP Convention on Migratory Species

So who do we listen to? The experts who work with these creatures, seeing their lives and deaths and the daily effects of poaching? Or political officials with a mixed bag of agendas?

If we must view elephants, rhinos or other animal in economic terms, then we must factor in tourism. Without wildlife, there is no tourism. Period.

To read more about the fight to ban ivory and save elephants: Born Free Foundation 

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Elephant herd on a dusty day in Amboseli National Park, Kenya. Photo: Tisha Wardlow

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Heartbreak as Another Baby Rhino is Found by Tourists

Remember the baby rhino found by tourists in Kruger a few weeks back?

It’s deja-vu , another orphaned baby was found wandering on the road in Kruger this last week.

He was an eight-week-old white rhino stumbled upon by passersby.

“Badly dehydrated, covered in wounds and clearly in desperate search of shade, the calf approached my car. She called out into emptiness, looked on for a moment and then rested her chin on my door. Slumping onto her hindquarters and then onto her belly she caught a few moments of peaceful rest in our shadow.”-Liam Burrough

baby rhino Liam 2

via Liam Burrough

Another driver who stumbled upon the scene  claimed the little one was dehydrated, cut up and crying for her mom. According to Adam Baugh the rhino came up and rubbed up against the car, before laying next to it to seek shade.

They tried to comfort the orphan, giving her water and talking to her until Kruger staff arrived to assist.

Baby rhino in lebambo mountains se corner of kruger near moz

via: Adam Baugh

Is this the kind of tourism South Africa is going to be known for? Crying baby rhinos desperately searching for their mom, wandering aimlessly for hours, maybe days in the bush, hopefully stumbling upon the right people for help?

So heartbreaking to think that these innocent souls sought out help from the very species responsible for their mothers’ destruction.

As Liam said, “It is our responsibility as humans to protect these animals. Change begins with you, so get off of your ass and do something! Write angry letters, donate as much money as you can to fund guns, dogs, equipment and salaries for the hands we so badly need to stop these gentle giants from disappearing.”

US residents: Write an email to the White House and share your concern. Please don’t use profanity or racial slurs, but USE your anger and heartache to demand change! It doesn’t have to be lengthy or wordy. We need to take a stand, with each email, it strengthens our voice. The South African government needs pressure from other countries to make this a priority and get serious. http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments

South Africa: http://www.gov.za/

Kenya: http://www.president.go.ke/pages/contact/

UK: https://email.number10.gov.uk/

China: http://english.president.gov.tw/Default.aspx?tabid=537

Vietnam: http://gov.vnm.tel/

If you have problems with any of these email addresses, or know of better links, please let us know.

 

 

 

 

 

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If Rhinos Go Extinct

To every thing there is a yin and yang, a balance. The web of all species is intricately connected, each relies on the others.

When we let a species go extinct, we upset the balance. So if we fail the rhino, what will happen to the rest of the savanna?

Rhinos are mega-herbivores, the lawn maintenance crew of the savanna. Their job to the ecosystem is to carve out paths for other creatures (eating), make water holes (digging), and to help germinate plants (defecating).

rhinos eating grass

It may seem simplistic, but they are the only sizable creatures in this habitat to do it. The other mega-herbivores, elephants affect different parts of the savanna, as they eat from a different menu, browsing on taller bushes and trees.

Rhinos eat an average of 23.6 kg during the course of each day. The dung piles they share can be 5 metres wide and 1 metre deep. That’s a sizable amount of trimming and fertilizing!

Research (by Scandinavian and South African researchers in the Journal of Ecology) indicates areas with higher rhino population had 20 times more grazing areas. These areas supply food not just for rhinos, but for zebra, gazelle and antelope.

No rhinos = less grazable area = less herbivores (i.e. antelope) = less predators (i.e. lions)

If we fail the rhino, what will happen to the people?

Eco-tourism relies heavily on tourists wanting to see the Big 5: the lion, elephant, rhino, cape buffalo, and leopard.

kenya tourism

 

Obviously without the rhino, it’s down to 4. But if the savanna suffers without grazable area, ultimately so do the lion and leopard, since their lunch will be terribly diminished by the lack of herbivores.

So will people pay to come see a barren landscape with a few scattered elephant and buffalo?

The World Travel and Tourism Council estimates 3.8 million jobs could be created by the tourism industry in Sub-Saharan Africa over the next 10 years. They go on to say that eco-tourism can only be sustainable IF the natural assets are protected from degradation.

Tour operators, tour drivers, cooks, housekeepers, souvenir vendors, wait staff, hotel staff, taxi drivers, restaurants, store employees…they could all be out of a job without tourism.

No rhino = no big five = no tourists = no tourism jobs = poorer economy

                                                  ________________________________

If we fail the rhino, we let terrorists, politicians, poachers, trophy-hunters, and most of all apathy win;  making it that much harder for the next endangered species. If we fail the rhino, we ultimately fail ourselves.

rhino reflection

 

 

 

 

 

 

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50 million years on Earth….Disappearing in 6?!

If the current rate of poaching continues, rhinos in the wild will be extinct by 2020. That is just 6 years away!

black and white rhinos by ryan hillier

There are only 5,000 black rhinos (L) and 20,000 white rhinos (R) remaining in the wild. (photo by Ryan Hillier)

According to Will Travers, chief executive of the Born Free Foundation,

“There will probably be no free-living rhinos as the remaining numbers will be fenced off in military-style compounds which are alarmed and heavily guarded by armed patrols.”

Are we prepared to let this happen? How will the world look without them?

The Savanna 

Rhinos are an umbrella species. This means their survival or demise directly impacts the survival or demise of other species of rhino in tall grass by chiu pangmammals, birds, insects, fish and plants. They play a big role in their ecosystem.

When they browse, they keep the areas trimmed, making paths and more accessible areas for smaller mammals. They also enrich the soil and help plants by spreading seed through their dung.

In fact according to an article in Smithsonian.com, rhino-inhabited areas had about 20 times more grazing lawns (or patches of prime eating grass) than areas without rhinos. This effects not just rhino’s diet, but smaller grazing animals such as zebra, gazelle, and antelope.

Without rhinos to diversify the plant life and help create grazing spots, the African savanna may become a much emptier place, devastating more than just the rhinos.

The Economy

Many parts of Africa rely heavily on the tourism business. Probably the biggest incentive for safaris is the “Big Five” (the elephant, rhino, lion, cape buffalo and leopard) With four of the five endangered or on their way to endangered status, tourism is absolutely threatened.

Without rhinos, there is no tourism and no tour guides, drivers, lodge employees, restaurant employees, or souvenir shop employees. South Africa and Kenya are arguably two of the biggest benefactors of tourism via safaris. With existing unemployment rates of 24% (SA) and 40% (K), there is no room for lessening job opportunities.

rhino safari (africa excl safari)

photo by africa exclusive safari

Global Responsibility

It may be cliché, but it is absolute truth-we have one planet. We are guardians of this planet; the only ones who are capable of devastating and destroying it, and likewise the only ones who can right this.

Rhinos are one of the 16,306 endangered species in the world. They have all come to this point from the recklessness of humans through habitat loss, hunting, and pollution. This can be brought to a halt through education and awareness, and stricter laws for violators.

BUT we must ask ourselves-do we REALLY want to save the planet? Do we have the will to work together-ignoring borders, setting aside self-importance and ultimately having respect, not just for each other, but for ALL  species? If enough of us can do this, we don’t have to wonder what will happen without rhinos. And we may just find our own dignity and humanity along the way.

help me

 

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Maasai Ecovillage: the Way Forward

Philip Mayan Ole Senteria is a young Maasai striving to unify his community, while saving their wildlife. He has helped launch Africa’s first Maasai ecovillage.

manyatta

One of eleven manyattas (huts) in the ecovillage.

The Oloimugi Traditional Ecovillage and campsite will bring people together through culture, arts and traditional dance. Visitors are given the unique opportunity to explore, learn and experience culture with the Maasai; like learning beadwork with the village women, milking of cows, and witnessing traditional rites of passage.
It is intended to be conservational, communal, and tourism project. Sustainability and self-reliance are the motivating factors for the village.
Senteria was inspired to begin the project because
“as a pastoral community, the Maasai have been scattered and disunified; hence they cannot put their efforts together and find solutions to problems affecting them..in terms of education, health, environment, conservation, etc.  This ecovillage is meant to unify people.”
“In terms of poaching, conservation of wildlife should primarily start at the community level. Once a community treasures wildlife and respects it, it will be very much protective, knowing that it is an asset, pride and heritage. “
” Poaching is a menace, being fired by  youth who are misguided, ill-advised and misused by some cartels. The ecovillage will bring the youth together, starting empowerment projects to help them get alternative means of earning a living legally and not through poaching….”
oloi pic 2
Senteria has experience in the tourism industry, having worked with Maasai warriors safaris, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, and Ol Pejeta Conservancy. He is an example of what one person can accomplish for their community.
For more information see: the Oloimugi Ecovillage Experience on FB

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Paving Paradise: the Road to Disaster

The Serengeti is a National Heritage Site, home to one of the most highly diverse groups of animals and habitats on the planet. The majestic serengeti mapecosystem stretches from Tanzania to Kenya, and 80% of it is currently protected by both governments.

The Serengeti is an infamous tourist destination, giving ample opportunities to view the Big Five, and of course the Great Migration. The Migration is an annual phenomenon, during which time hundreds of thousands of wildebeests, zebra and antelope move in herds from one grazing area to the next, spanning approximately 1800 miles.

Tourism is a significant part of Kenya’s economy, and it has emerged as the top foreign exchange earner in Tanzania last year as well.  According to Africa Travel and Tourism, basing on its great potential, the sector has much to be confident about in 2014.

Paving Paradise

construction in serengetiIn 2010, the Tanzania government announced a plan to construct a paved commercial highway across the Serengeti.  They believe this will more easily facilitate trade and travel, linking the country’s coast to Lake Victoria and countries to the west, including Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The group Serengeti Watch conducted a survey of over 300 scientists from varying countries who all concluded this would have adverse effects on the Migration. The annual routes of millions of animals would be disrupted, the area would become fragmented, and obviously the human-wildlife conflict would become an urgent concern. (Not to mention, making life “easier” for the poachers and game hunters.)

wildebeests migration

This photo taken during the Migration, in nearly the exact place where the proposed Serengeti highway would bisect this part of Serengeti and Loliondo. Not far from this spot there are survey ribbons hanging on trees.

Since then, there has been international public outcry, as obviously this disturbs one of the most precious ecosystems in the world. Serengeti Watch has brought attention to this devastating  proposal and last year a legal case was filed by Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW). In addition, on Tanzania’s behalf, Serengeti Watch contacted dozens of organizations and more than three hundred experts in an attempt to find expert witnesses. Sadly, no one came forward, out of fear of serious repercussions in their ability to enter, work or remain in Tanzania in the future.

yes to the southern routeAlternative Plan: the Southern Route

In addition to the Serengeti Watch, the Frankfurt Zoological Society, African Wildlife Foundation and many other conservation groups and NGO’s are pushing for a route AROUND the Southern end of the park. This will accomplish the goal of connecting Arusha with the Lake Victoria region which is one of the “purposes” of the highway.

It would help five times as many people and would cost less. The Frankfurt Zoological Society estimates that it would only take 1 HOUR longer to drive!

Although this seems a feasible compromise, protecting both the wildlife and the opportunity for further development, it is still not decided.

The Way It Stands

Currently there will be paved roads on both sides of the Serengeti, connecting Arusha with the Lake Victoria region, things are in the final stages of planning. Contractors have been selected and the government of Tanzania has funds in its  2013-2014 Budget.

The roads will not be built within the Serengeti National Park itself, but they will border it and cross areas where large numbers of wildebeest and zebras migrate. Wildlife will be forced to cross tarmac roads with commercial traffic, including the Wildlife Management Area in Loliondo.

For updates,  join Serengeti Watch on facebook: STOP THE SERENGETI HIGHWAY

Please sign and share the petition to:  Protect Tanzania’s wildlife.

mandela save environment

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The Photo Seen Around the World

You want to see rhinos on your holiday? Vacation to Kruger National Park, South Africa-home to 90% of the world’s remaining rhino.

With promise of witnessing Africa’s Big 5, that’s just what a group of Belgium tourists did. On final days of the trip, having seen everything BUT a rhino, they were excited to finally see one of these beautiful elusive rhino come galloping poached rhino in krugerout of the bush, only to realize…

it was moving very slowly towards the vehicle, and when I got the pictures, I looked over my photo equipment and noticed the rhino’s horns were missing.”

“At that moment everybody got very emotional and the rhino disappeared back into the bush. It was at that moment we realised we were seeing something that has never happened before. It’s very emotional for all of us. I couldn’t stop crying. You can’t stop crying when you see something that outrageous”, said Louis Dillen, one of the tourists on the safari.

Horrible, heartbreaking, devastating to bear witness to…BUT is there a bright side to this brutality?

One of the tourists was the personal aide to the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister,Johan Maricou . After the incident, Maricou expressed outrage, stating

 “I urge the South African government to put this at the top of their agenda.”

“…South Africa carries a certain responsibility. But without international co-operation and agreements, especially with Asian countries where the demand is mostly, this is a very difficult issue.”

With poaching rearing its ugly head directly in the face of tourists, especially one so closely connected in the political community, this is a wake-up call. If Kruger, or South Africa itself, wants to continue making profit from tourism, things Must change.

Belgium is aware and watching, and after the photo went viral this past week, so is the rest of the world.

Fresh off the London Summit on Wildlife Trafficking, where 50 countries attended to get serious about putting an end to illegal trafficking, this may be another push toward change.

As horrific and haunting as this must have been, she is one of thousands who have been slaughtered over the last several years;  2-3 a day, every day.

rhino poaching graph 2013

In 2014, there have been an additional 163 poachings so far (OSCAP).

Please be a part of the change. Read, sign and share this petition/proposal to the South African government:              Dehorned Rhino in Kruger: Enough is Enough 

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South Africa Tourism: A Catch 22

international rhinoOf the world’s most popular travel destinations, South Africa ranked #21. Tourism supports 1 out of every 12 jobs in South Africa,  in total contributing 9% to the total GDP (gross domestic product).

Among the top ten travel hot spots within the country, half are eco-tourism destinations, including the #1 ranked Kruger National Park.

Understandably, the government aims to increase its tourism industry,  in turn fueling the economy.

According to the S.A. tourism director, Ambassador Kingsley Makhubela, “Going forward, we would like to contribute half a trillion rand into South Africa’s economy and create 225,000 jobs (in tourism) by 2020.”

With that being said, “Why doesn’t the government take a stronger stand on poaching and conservation?”

Canned Hunts

The cover page on the South Africa tourism site shows “The Big Five” under the photo of a lion.  Ironic considering that although lions are listed as threatened,  SA is home to  the shameful atrocity of canned hunts. (see: Shooting Fish in a Barrel)

There are now officially more lions in captivity than in the wild. From 2006 to 2011, canned hunts of lions increased by a whopping 122%, with no signs of slowing. In the last 6 years, the number of farm lions has grown by 250%.

Is anything being done to stop this? It would appear not.  In 2010 the South African Supreme Court struck down a law which would have restricted the practice.

bachmanIf the recent outcry of protests against Melissa Bachman (the US hunter shown in a photo with a dead lion after her hunt) is any indication, the majority clearly do not favor or support this practice.

Poaching

With South Africa being home to 83% of the world’s remaining rhinos, the country is holding all the cards when it comes to saving the rhino from extinction. There has been an escalation in poaching over recent years to the toll of 2-3 rhino being killed per day.

rhino poaching stats 2013

In 2013, although there have been 310 arrests,  how many are actually convicted? The justice system seems inadequate in handing down speedy or consistent sentences. Those who are sentenced, are often released with a minimal fine, only to go out and poach again.

Granted, poaching is a multi-faceted issue which needs to be combated through combined routes of education, economy, and the justice system. But time is not on the rhinos side.

With the lack of action, and decrease of wildlife, some in the tourism industry are fearful of negative repercussions.

Chris Roche of Wilderness Safaris said “Tourist boycotts are harmful and have adverse effects contrary to their intentions,” says Roche. “We would not advocate any real consideration of this as a mechanism in exerting influence on governments. Rather, we believe that the opposite is a far more meaningful action; that tourists actually travelling to locations where poaching, especially of ivory and rhino, is prevalent is the best possible contribution.”

While that is true, it is a catch 22.  No one will pay for wildlife safaris to see grass and trees. Tourism is the jewel of South Africa’s economy. If the tourism industry is to survive, then so must the rhinos, elephants, and lions.

A conservation agency will spend Sh7 million to install new technology to fight poaching in the Maasai Mara.
Read more at: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/thecounties/article/2000099996/conservation-group-to-spend-sh7m-on-anti-poaching-drive
A conservation agency will spend Sh7 million to install new technology to fight poaching in the Maasai Mara.
Read more at: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/thecounties/article/2000099996/conservation-group-to-spend-sh7m-on-anti-poaching-drive
A conservation agency will spend Sh7 million to install new technology to fight poaching in the Maasai Mara.
Read more at: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/thecounties/article/2000099996/conservation-group-to-spend-sh7m-on-anti-poaching-drive
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