The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) has launched a series of virtual safaris that give participants a taste of the safari experience as well as insights on the pandemic threats on wildlife and local communities.
The first episode of the series was launched in October 2020 with a virtual safari to Tanzania. This was followed by a guided online tour to Uganda on 28 January, and another of Zimbabwe coming up in March.
The primary goal of AWF Virtual Safaris is to engage supporters with special access and offerings providing tangible takeaways about the connection between the tourism industry, wildlife and the African communities working to protect endangered and threatened wildlife. This unique formula has made a difference over the past year and helped the organisation to conduct a highly successful emergency response to Covid-19.
"We launched the virtual safaris series for our members and future travellers but realised along the way that there were benefits for other stakeholders," said AWF Virtual Safaris programme manager, Carter Smith.
"These virtual safaris are not only a creative way to take our folks on safari during this strange time of restricted travel, but they are a terrific way to show solidarity with our partners in the safari industry as well as to highlight the important work that we are doing."
In addition to helping with awareness, the AWF Virtual Safaris programme amplifies an emerging theme as part of AWF's new 10-year strategy, launched in 2020: conservation.
The dangers of tourism over-reliance are playing out in big ways in Africa, with areas most dependent on tourists seeing a rise in bushmeat poaching and human-wildlife conflict. This leads to the bigger issue of slackening of commitment to conservation, as people in wildlife communities cut costs amid shrinking tourism dollars.
Conservation investments are currently dispersed and disjointed, protecting islands of wildlife and wildlands. AWF believes funds must be redirected to larger landscapes and ecosystems. The group is also working on long-range solutions for rapidly developing youth leadership programmes, sustainable infrastructure and agriculture, and its safaris provide a window into this philosophy.
Source: Travel Weekly