Photo Cred : Cousin and superb photographer, Andrew Ackermann.
I am currently in South Africa to escort Pace Academy students on an eco safari into the wilderness of Botswana. While waiting for them to arrive at O.R.Tambo International Airport I got to talking to a group of tourist meeting up with their companions. They were full of excitement over their visit to the Lion Park, where they had cuddled and fed adorable lion cubs. I cringed inside knowing full well that nobody would indulge in such activities if they knew of the devastating consequences and the fate of these animals.
And then, as if by universal timing, I also came across an article in the Travel Weekly about Africa’s active – and questionable - wildlife activities. Even with the huge backlash regarding these up close and personal wildlife experiences, demand often trumps good sense and kindness.
But it’s not all doom and gloom! Innovative companies have come up with solutions to authentic wildlife experience that keep clients involved. These include conservation activities such as relocation of wildlife and rhino dehorning.
A safari is, arguably, a life changing experience. Make sure yours consists of deeply connected game drives, bush walks with skilled guides, and some interaction with the local communities to learn about their culture.
Be conservation minded. Be present. Be changed forever.