Safari Tourism: More Crucial for Conservation Than Ever

Photo taken by Jennifer Johnson on an Ujuzi safari to Tanzania.
Photo taken by Jennifer Johnson on an Ujuzi safari to Tanzania.

Earlier this summer, Chris Costa of National Geographic Traveler wrote a blog post calling on his readers to go on safari.

Tourism to Africa dropped as much as 70 percent in the wake of the Ebola crisis last winter, even though popular safari destinations such as the Serengeti are thousands of miles away from affected areas.

With fewer tourists and less money coming into local communities, poachers have more opportunities to kill endangered animals and sell their body parts on the international black market. Pangolin scales, elephant ivory and rhino horn are all in high demand. As a result of this illegal trade, subspecies like the northern white rhino are on the brink of extinction.

Costa quoted safari guide Mark Thornton as saying, “One of the few things standing in the way of the possible extinction of endangered [animals] is tourists who pay to see these majestic creatures in the wild.” This is because tourism brings jobs and income to local communities, providing alternatives to destructive poaching. Park entry fees fund conservation and anti-poaching programs.

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Meet South African safari guide Graham Johansson

Graham JohanssonUjuzi is excited to be working with longtime safari guide Graham Johansson in South Africa. Graham is an avid wildlife photographer and loves to help others capture the best visual records of their safari experience. He’ll be guiding the Cape Town segment of Ujuzi’s South Africa safari in March 2015.

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El Nault’s tips for a successful gorilla trek

El Nault on safari
El Nault on safari

In June, I had the chance to talk to El Nault about her amazing safari to Rwanda and Tanzania with Ujuzi Travel and Jodi Carrigan of Zoo Atlanta. She was a delight to speak to, and had lots of wonderful insights about wildlife, culture and having a truly memorable safari. I posted most of the interview a couple weeks ago, but there wasn’t room to include all her travel tips.

At Ujuzi, I work hard to make sure that your safari is as awe-inspiring and worry-free as possible. But little decisions you make before and on your trip can also affect your experience. So this week, I’m going to share some of El’s ideas for making the most of a gorilla trek. In a future post, I’d like to share other safari tips, so please comment with your own below or on Ujuzi’s Facebook page.

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Little Creatures Make Big Impressions on Safari

You may have already heard of the Big Five African game: leopards, African elephants, Cape buffalos, rhinos and lions. With their massive size and strength, these animals are sure to capture the attention of anyone who encounters them.

But many smaller creatures are just as fascinating – you just have to know where to look. A fun, pun-filled list of must-see safari animals called “the Little Five” draws attention to sub-Saharan Africa’s more minute wildlife.

Read on to find out more about the astounding ant lion, beautiful buffalo weaver, extraordinary elephant shrew, lovely leopard tortoise and resplendent rhinoceros beetle.

What small creatures are on your safari “must-see” list?

Ant lion

ant lion
Photo by Jonathan Numer. Used through a Creative Commons license.

Ant lion is the name given to the larvae from 2,000 species of related insects that look like dragonflys as adults. Ant lions hunt by digging holes in the sand and posing as ants that have become stuck in them.  Insects hoping to eat the “ants” get eaten by the ant lion instead.

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