Are Safaris Ethical?
While zoos can be an ideal place to see animals up close, there is nothing like seeing them in their natural habitat. One of the ideal ways to see this is by going on an African safari where you can see everything from zebras and wildebeests migrating to hyenas and lions hunting. This is not only a dream come true for many travellers, but also for tourists companies running these trips. But how ethical are safaris?
To be honest, it depends. One of the main negative effects with safaris is the large carbon footprint that is left behind. First, the ever increasing number of landrovers roaming the land is damaging roads and grasslands which is disturbing the wildlife's natural habitat. Secondly, the human and animal interaction is very unnatural and can lead to life threatening incidences where animals attack tourists or the animals being hunted by tourists.
Thirdly, with the increase in tourism there is an inevitable parallel rise the number of lodges being built to house tourists which destroys the native land. And lastly, specifically in Kenya’s Maasai Mara, the lifestyle and growth of the rural population has changed and has become less nomadic which affects local wildlife and where they graze.
Having said all of that, there are many good things that have come out of this industry. Some of the safari companies practice responsible tourism and are focused on sharing the revenue with the local community. This is dispersed to help increase the number of jobs and schools, and support various conservation efforts that are being made such as anti-poaching patrols, building of fences, wildlife management and much more.
There are various tourist companies that choose to implement low impact camping safari’s rather than lodges or hotels. This helps reduce the carbon footprint and also brings guests closer to nature. So before heading off on your safari, do plenty of research and look into which company seems to have the ethics you agree with. Once you are on the safari, respect the animals and the land, learn what what wildlife issues are at stake, and share that knowledge to help with conservation efforts so that many more can enjoy the same adventure you are on.