Safari Lodges: Bridging the gap between tourism and conservation – an Article by Africa Geographic
Have you ever wondered what a safari lodge actually does?
Granted, lodges and camps like Deception Valley Lodge provide accommodation and services to tourists, welcoming people from all over the world, looking after them and making sure they have a great holiday. But there´s so much more to a lodge than just providing a nice place to stay in the bush.
Most importantly, a safari lodge is a critical bridge between tourism and conservation and has an invaluable role to play in helping to educate guests on the challenges and issues being faced in protecting wilderness areas and key species across Africa. Our guests become ambassadors not just for a destination, but for the wild flora and fauna they see every day during their stay with us. So it´ś absolutely imperative that we take our role as custodians and teachers seriously.
Safari lodges have an obligation to share knowledge, experience and understanding with guests, to make them aware of the precarious positions many species find themselves in and give advice as to what they can do to help.
While they may not be scientists or academics pioneering the way forward, safari lodges and camps are ¨in the field¨ every single day and often assist in valuable research that is changing the way the world thinks about conservation and management of wilderness areas. Our collective ¨voice¨ is taken seriously because we see the effects of climate change, human-wildlife conflict and habitat loss firsthand.
Many of us also work hand-in-hand with conservation programmes to help improve the understanding of what is happening and how better to reduce the pressure on key species and fragile environments. We do this by working with communities, ensuring that game reserves are not just the playgrounds of the wealthy but have real and meaningful benefit for those who live on their periphery, creating a tangible value for wildlife and protected areas.
In many respects, lodges across Africa are the frontline of conservation, where guests come into physical contact with places they have only ever seen on a television screen or a YouTube video. It usually has a powerful impact and leaves a lasting, if not lifelong, impression. So the onus on us is to get the message out, to educate and inform and express the need to conserve Africa´s wilderness areas for generations yet to come without our guests feeling like they are being bludgeoned!
Lodges invariably do this by giving our guests incomparable wildlife experiences, showing them what ¨wild Africa¨ is all about and gently explaining to them how important it is that what we have now is still here in 100 years or more.
Ultimately, it all boils down to passion, and making the most of it, by sharing it with guests. It´s about where we are and what we do, and no matter whether it´s a basic bush camp or a luxurious 5-star retreat, a safari lodge is a conduit to the wilderness and has to make sure that it provides a voice for those who have none – the countless species of animals and plants whose existence is in OUR hands.