It feels like we’re at a crossroads with all the things we hold dear about Africa, truly the world’s most exciting continent.
n the one hand, there has never been such intense pressure on our natural habitats and their wildlife from exploitive development, fast-growing populations and organised crime. The battle to protect elephant and rhino in particular (but almost all animal species are suffering) has now escalated into a global war. Tens of millions of dollars are being spent on military-style security operations and communication campaigns to stem the tide, and intense debate has developed around strategies to combat the scourge.
At the same time, there are many remarkable projects under way, led by inspiring people who are making strides in turning things around. Some initiatives span international boundaries, while others progress with minimal fuss but undoubted effect. I think of organisations such as African Wildlife Foundation, African Parks Network, Tusk and the hundreds of conservancies across the continent… and there are so many more.
Virtually every lodge or camp across Africa is now making a positive impact at the local level: supporting schools, running anti-poaching programmes, conducting research, providing employment. The lifeblood of every one of these operations is you: the traveller.
The more people who go on safari, the greater the impact. The more tourists in an area, the harder it is for poachers to operate. The Masai Mara is one of the most heavily-touristed parks on the continent, and the incidence of poaching there is considerably lower than in the less-visited reserves such as those in southern Tanzania and northern Mozambique.
We feature some wonderful places in this issue – Katavi and Gonarezhou, for example – that desperately need more visitors. These are vast parks with hugely dramatic, unspoiled landscapes and excellent game-viewing opportunities, offering safaris led by experienced guides based at well-run camps. I would jump on the next plane to either of those without a moment’s hesitation.
We look forward to telling you about many more of Africa’s special places. To help us on this journey, we are joined by Laura Griffith-Jones, who has taken over the editorial responsibilities at Travel Africa. Laura shares our passion for Africa and is very excited about working for a brighter future for the continent’s wildlife, people and wilderness. If her efforts inspire you to go on more safaris, we’ll be on the right track.
Craig Rix, Publisher