Exploitation vs. Conservation: African Wildlife Tourism in Crisis?

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    A correspondent this morning from the Kruger in South Africa told me that 10 rhinos had been killed by poachers in her area since the start of the new year. Last year a thousand rhinos were killed, and the web was vitriolic in its condemnation of smug rich hunters posing with the rifles and dead beasts they were adding to their trophy list. The sick trades in rhino horn, illegal ivory, bush meat and hunting licences threatens to the very basis for the huge market in wildlife tourism in much of Africa.HotelDesigns has covered African tourism in Namibia and South Africa quite extensively in part because tourism generates the jobs and capital investments needed to provide employment in these post colonial states, where the so-called ‘mother countries’ totally failed to invest in education and social development. In Southern Africa tourism growth rates are astonishing with a range of countries demonstrating growth rates of anything up to 20% a year in recent times. Most of this is being developed by local entrepreneurs as the major international hotel chains have seen fit to fail to invest, with the notable exception of investments made by Rezidor, and the recent agreement by Marriott to purchase the South African Protea group hotel collection, the largest on the continent with over 108 hotels.

    Key attractions in these countries are the landscape wilderness and the wildlife. A clutch of operators have sprung up that exploit eco-safaris in these areas. One we have covered in detail, the Wilderness group, have some 63 properties across the region, working in partnership with local communities, making a gradual equity share arrangement transferring ownership, and employing and training (in partnership with Europe’s Red Carnation group) local people. They and other organisations rely on the presence of wildlife and invest in time effort and resources into maximising conservation effort. For example in Namibia if a farmer loses a goat to a leopard, the compensation is more than the market value of the goat so that there is an incentive for local communities to support the conservation efforts.
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    Daniel Fountain / 15.01.2014

    Editor, Hotel Designs


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