Many safari travelers who want to go in the wild are hesitant to travel if they are unable to decide whether African safaris are ethical.
African safaris are ethical as they promote anti-poaching efforts, conservation drives, biodiversity, the local economy, and communities. African safari tour operators also teach travelers to respect animals by educating them about animal rights and needs, which makes these trips even more ethical.
Let’s look at what makes African safaris ethical.
Why Are African Safaris Ethical?
African safaris are ethical for the following reasons:
Revenue Generated From African Safaris is Used for Animal Conservation
African safaris contribute to the economic growth of local communities by creating job opportunities in the tourism sector, such as guides, drivers, and hospitality staff. This helps improve the standard of living for many families in the region.
But you might be thinking, how does the employment creation among locals make African safaris ethical? I’ll come to this in a while.
But look at these numbers first.
Data suggest that the African safari industry nearly touches $20 billion every year.
Also, the safari industry in Africa employs more than 3.6 million people who are responsible for feeding their families. In the absence of safaris, these families are likely to starve in the already stagnated economy of African countries.
Now let’s come to the question: How does human employment make African Safaris ethical?
This is because human employment is contributing to the conservation efforts of African safaris.
A significant portion of the revenue collected through the safari industry is allocated for the conversation drives.
The USAID spends millions of dollars to support African safari operators every year.
Recently the United States announced to assist African safari tour operators with a whopping money of $75 million. This money will not only benefit 44,000 community members but also help conservation landscape owners, managers, and communities to raise $40 million to start safaris conversation drives.
Now imagine that this much amount of money is not spent on conserving wildlife species on safaris. This will not only eliminate many endangered safari species but also put a strain on the resources that are dedicated to helping animals in the wild.
African Safaris Discourage Poachers and Promote Anti-Poaching Drives
When safaris travelers are decreased, poachers come into action. Many African nations have seen previously that poachers start hunting animals when safari visits decline.
And there are numbers to back this claim. For example, the number of visitors to Serengeti, Tanzania, dropped from 70,000 to only 10,000 between 1977 and 1983, when Tanzania closed its borders with Kenya. As a result of this tourism decline, many Rhinos started to disappear in Serengeti Safari while the number of elephants also dropped significantly.
And Tanzania is not the only country that has faced a decline in wildlife population amidst the decline in Safari tourism. Zimbabwe and Kenya are two other countries that have seen the poachers in action when Safari tourism number nosedive.
This is the reason why a famous wildlife photographer Paul Goldstein said;
“If the tourists don’t go on Safari, there are no eyes on the ground, and the locals don’t get paid. The poachers move in.”
Or a veteran safari operator Mark Butcher who said,
“When people are hungry, they don’t worry about conservation. The wildlife gets left in the care of poorly motivated and ill-equipped bureaucrats.”
African Safari Educate People and Increase Awareness About the Importance of Wildlife
By promoting sustainable tourism practices, African safari operators are able to contribute to the preservation of local ecosystems and wildlife populations. Safaris can also educate visitors on the importance of conservation efforts in Africa and the role that they can play in protecting vulnerable species. At the end of the day, these education drives make African Safari ethical.
Profit Making From Wildlife Encourage Human Not to Kill the Biodiversity
Unfortunately, human beings can cause damage to wildlife if they are not making a business out of it. We are not here to justify these efforts of human beings, but when Safari tourism is present, there is local resistance against any destruction aimed at wildlife. This resistance results in biodiversity as more species are allowed to thrive in their natural habitat without any human intervention.
And I will not exaggerate things if I say that Safari tourism is the only thing that is saving the already endangered species at the moment.
African Safaris Are Respectful Towards Wildlife Compared to Zoos
Unlike Zoos, animals are present in their natural habitat in Safari parks. So you might consider Zoos ethical since they deprive animals of their natural environment. But no safari is aimed at snatching the living freedom from wildlife, which makes African Safari ethical.
There is a common perception that wildlife animals can get disturbed by Safari travelers. Critics suggest that wildlife animals see humans as a threat. But there is little evidence to support this notion.
Do you know why most animals don’t attack safari travelers in their jeeps? This is because they don’t perceive human tourists as a threat. Even wild predators who have a history of killing prey in big numbers and are possessive about their territories don’t kill humans in jeeps because they don’t perceive them as a threat. These studies suggest that African safaris are completely ethical.
Now look at some general guidelines that make African safaris ethical.
It is the general consensus among all the stakeholders that they need to follow some rules and regulations during their safaris to make African safaris a win-win situation for both animals and humans.
Harassing Animals is Banned
Safaris tour guides, operators, and travelers know that harassing animals is against the code of conduct of African safaris.
Making loud noises on any animal or disturbing them in any capacity is against the ethics of safaris. That is why African safari guides and operators advise people against taking any physical or verbal action against animals, which makes African safaris ethical.
Respectful Behavior Towards Animals Makes Safaris Ethical
It is crucial to avoid frightening or harassing animals during safaris. By speaking softly and avoiding sudden movements, we show respect for their natural habitat and prevent unnecessary stress. This is advised in African safaris, and this makes these tours ethical.
No Chasing of Animals
Chasing animals, whether on foot or in a vehicle, is highly unethical and dangerous. That is why it is advised that safari travelers must not chase any animal. It disrupts their natural behavior and can lead to injuries for both animals and humans. Patience and understanding that we are visitors in their territory are essential for ethical wildlife encounters. These types of rules also make African safaris ethical.
No Permission to Feed Animals Makes African Safaris Completely Ethical
While it may seem that feeding animals is ethical, it is highly unethical to do so in reality. That is why safari travelers are strictly advised not to feed any animal. Feeding wild animals is discouraged due to multiple reasons. Firstly, it can lead to animals associating humans with food, which can result in aggression and potential harm to both parties.
Secondly, human food can be harmful and even fatal to animals, as their digestive systems are not adapted to processed or toxic substances.
And thirdly, wild animals can start depending on others for food which is against their survival. In the wild, animals gather their own food, so even if you feed them, it will hurt their hunting instincts, which is not good for their survival. Complying with these guidelines makes African safaris highly ethical.
Among other rules of African safaris, an important factor that makes safaris ethical is not to litter anything. Littering in safari areas is detrimental to the environment and poses risks to wildlife. Even biodegradable waste can degrade the ecosystem and affect the delicate balance of the habitat. Animals may also ingest litter, which can lead to health issues. Keeping the environment clean and pristine is crucial for ethical safaris. But due to the strict adherence to no littering rules, African safaris are ethical.
Protection of Vegetation
Many stakeholders suggest that African safaris are dangerous for the vegetation of the wild. Picking or damaging flowers and vegetation disrupts the natural ecosystem. Plants and flowers play vital roles in the food chain and provide habitats for various species.
Preserving these elements ensures the overall well-being of the ecosystem and helps maintain the biodiversity of the area. So, safari operators advise against destroying any vegetation of the wild, which makes African safaris ethical.
Guides’ General Instructions That Make African Safaris Ethical
In general, all safari travelers are advised to follow a general set of guidelines that are made to create a win-win situation for both the wildlife and the tourists. As long as travelers follow this advice, African safaris are ethical.
Promoting environmental awareness
Safaris provide an opportunity for visitors to learn about the importance of conservation and the challenges faced by wildlife and ecosystems in Africa. This increased awareness can inspire tourists to become more environmentally conscious in their daily lives and support conservation initiatives, which makes these safaris ethical.
Guidelines to Make Your African Safaris Ethical
Still, if you are not satisfied that the African Safari you are going to travel on is not ethical, here are the guidelines that will help you make your African safari travel completely ethical.
Do your research About Safari Operator and Destination.
When planning an African safari, it is important to do your research and choose a reputable and ethical tour company. Be sure to read reviews and ask questions about the company’s policies before booking. You can easily ignore companies that are not considerate of the ethical guidelines in Safari.
Ask about the company’s conservation efforts.
When choosing a tour company, be sure to ask about their conservation efforts. Reputable companies will be actively involved in conservation projects in the areas they operate in.
Avoid using plastic
One of the easiest ways to make your Safari more ethical is to avoid using plastic. Bring reusable water bottles and bags with you, and make an effort to reduce your reliance on single-use plastics while on Safari. Never ever throw anything within Safari, even if the material is biodegradable since animals can consume those materials.
When on Safari, it is important to respect wildlife. This means not approaching animals too closely, not feeding them, and not disturbing their habitat in any way.
Be considerate of local communities.
During Africa Safari. be considerate of local communities. So you must respect their culture and traditions, be mindful of your impact on the environment, and support local businesses where possible.
Educate yourself about the issues facing Africa.
Before embarking on an African safari, take some time to read more about the issues facing the continent. This will help you to have a more responsible and respectful attitude while on Safari.
Choose sustainable accommodation
When booking accommodation for your Safari, try to choose lodges or hotels that are committed to sustainable tourism practices. This will help to minimize your impact on the environment while also supporting local communities.
Travel during the shoulder season
If you want to avoid contributing to over-tourism, consider traveling during the shoulder season instead of peak season. This will often be cheaper as well as less crowded.
Avoid Hunting Safaris
There is a common consensus that safari travel for the sake of trophy hunting is unethical. So, travelers who want to remain unethical must not participate in hunting safaris.
Most Safaris are ethical as long as you are following the guidelines set forward by tour operators.
Always try to follow the basic etiquette of Safaris, as it will allow you to have a worthy Safari experience without inflicting any damage to the wildlife.
Bariki was born and raised in Tanzania, the land of the magnificent Serengeti, Ngorongoro, and Manyara wildlife parks. He grew up surrounded by Africa’s natural beauty. Visiting his grandpa in Moshi Kilimanjaro, at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, provided him with early exposure to wildlife and the natural world.
As a technology and human rights blogger, he has always been passionate about writing. With many relatives working in the tourism industry, he has stayed abreast of the industry’s successes and challenges, which led him to write about African safaris.
Now residing in the USA, Bariki is using his firsthand knowledge to help foreigners plan their dream safari in Africa. At Posire, he shares his expertise on everything you need to know about planning a safari, from choosing the right destination to the best time to go and what to expect during your adventure.