Across Africa there are many small scale conservation projects in operation, many supported by individual communities or businesses. They might be regenerating a small area of forest or wetland, educating against killing bush meat or organising community patrols to help stop poaching and deforestation. Without then the continent would have lost much more of its amazing habitats and wildlife.
Many camps and lodges have community projects, ensuring that the local populations benefit from the existence of wildlife and helping protect it, while improving the lives of those people whose lives are most directly impacted by the feeding and migration of the creatures that can impact their crops and homes.
One such business is Kicheche, a high end group of camps that operate in the private reserves of Kenya. They have Kicheche Laikipia in the World famous Ol Pejeta Reserve as well as three camps – Valley, Mara and Bush in the Mara North Conservancy of the Masai Mara.
The Valley Camp is situated in the Naboisho Conservancy, an area of over 52,000 acres and because of the tourism revenues generated by the camps in it, the local communities who retain control over their lands make a good income from having the wildlife live undisturbed there. This money goes to the landowners, the Masai peoples as well as being spent on community projects such as roads, bridges, schools and healthcare. Its the perfect balance. The camps get great landscapes and game viewing . The Masai receive a a good income from their lands that allows them to earn money and develop the local infrastructures and services, the wildlife get an additional 52,000 acres of safe habitat and the tourists receive an amazing safari.
Its a model Kicheche use for all their camps. They go further. They have their own community trust into which they pay US$5 for every bed night spent by a client at one of their camps and donated into by many of their guests. Through this they support conservation initiatives such as the Mara wide Mara Predator Project. They fund educational courses for the local students to help they achieve their ambitions and to ensure they are qualified for the jobs they wish to do, as well as supporting 18 women’s groups who produce goods that they can then sell, generating income for their households. They support a clinic, an orphanage and arrange for doctors visits to outlying areas.
So when selecting a safari holiday there is much more to consider than just the weather. Research your destinations, and work out which camps and lodges are truly part of the community and genuinely help in the conservation of wildlife and habitat. Your visit will be all the richer for it. Many people go to Africa to see the animals. Many people return with amazing memories and experiences and most peoples best memories feature the hospitality and interactions with the local populations. Staying at the camps of Kicheche makes you part of that community.