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Wilderness Safaris: Conservation in a Time of Crisis


While Wilderness Safaris, operators of twenty-one camps and lodges spanning six African countries, misses hosting its guests in some of the wildest places on earth, the company's current focus is on ensuring the protection of wildlife as well as the safety and wellbeing of its employees and the communities it supports. While the world has come to a stop, conservation efforts have not.

In our last newsletter we shared the uplifting conservation story of a pack of wild dogs that had been translocated from Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park to a temporary boma at Chikwenya in Mana Pools National Park. The team at Chikwenya Camp has recently discovered that the alpha female in the boma is pregnant, which is a very positive development for the project. The dogs, set to be released in April, will now remain in the enclosure until August to protect the new mother and her offspring.

More uplifting news: the Children in the Wilderness foundation has just awarded 80 six-year scholarships, valued at USD $120,000, to learners at Bisate Secondary School in Rwanda. Provided by Bisate Lodge guests, the scholarships will cover school fees, books and uniform costs for the full duration of the children's secondary school education. Classic Africa is proud to be continuing its support of this program.

In addition, the Wilderness Wildlife Trust (WWT) has allocated significant funds towards the Namibia Desert Lion Conservation Project to ensure the continuity of the crucial work required in the ongoing mitigation of human-lion conflict in the north-west of the country. The funds have been used to procure 10 early-warning GPS and satellite collars, as well as two Remote Alert Units.

Perhaps most importantly, Wilderness Safaris' Sustainability Fund has allocated urgent monies needed to ensure that Hwange's Scorpion Anti-Poaching Unit can continue to operate for the next eight months, despite the current global tourism challenges. With Zimbabwe currently on Covid-19-related lockdown, Wilderness Safaris commends the country's government for the progressive step of including wildlife security as an essential service. The funds will therefore ensure that the team, which includes Hwange National Park rangers, is able to maintain its year-round presence within the park, which is vital in the fight against poaching.

One of the biggest deterrents to poaching is a safari camp, with its game-drive vehicles that patrol remote areas of concessions for over 8 hours per day. Therefore, Wilderness will retain a skeleton staff at several of its camps to ensure that the areas without formal anti-poaching units are monitored. It will also retain rhino monitors at Mombo Camp in Botswana, to protect these vulnerable re-introduced animals.

Finally, Wilderness is protecting its nearly 3,000 employees by assuring them a job when the world re-opens and supporting them with a stipend until they can return to work. With as many as 10 people dependent on one salaried family member, job loss prevention is profoundly important in impoverished communities.

While Wilderness is not the only safari operator going to great lengths to make a positive impact during this time of crisis, its achievements have been notable and hopefully provide a glimpse into the efforts being made across Africa to ensure that it remains "Wild...Elegant...Yours!"

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