An Africa safari is not simply about having an amazing bucket list adventure (although we assure you that you will)! What comes out of it is so so much more.
Here are the knock on effects of your visit to Africa:
- Your safari in Africa supports conservation efforts that would otherwise go unfunded and unsupported.
- Your Africa holiday creates employment, transforming lives and livelihoods.
- Nature tourism is now being recognised as a major contributor to poverty reduction.
- Local people realise the economic benefits that wildlife and nature tourism bring and now they will fight for conservation, even in the face of corruption and wildlife crime.
- We know that by inspiring our guests on their trips to Africa that there is a greater chance they will become ambassadors.
A perfect example of this is Michelle McCamley who founded Wild Support. Michelle first travelled to Africa with Bench Africa (we were Bench International then). "That first visit connected me deeply with wildlife and it is my personal passion to do whatever I can to help animals in crisis. I have been back to Africa many times since 2013 and will never stop going now!" Wild Support recently hosted a Dine for Rhino event to raise awareness and funds for the rhino, flying guest speaker Dr. Marais out to Australia to help to inspire more people to support this wonderful cause.
Many of the lodges and camps that we, at Bench Africa work with are passionately committed to ecotourism, dedicating themselves to unique and innovative conservation efforts in their respective areas. We try to partner with businesses on the ground who share our vision and are committed to conservation. Together we can give back to the communities and conservation areas that we hold so dear.
The ecologically diverse country of Botswana is a fantastic example of ecotourism executed beautifully. Home to some of the world’s most endangered species of large mammals, such as the lion, the cheetah, white rhino, black rhino and African wild dog, more than 17% of the country is protected as National Park land. Profits from tourism are invested heavily in conservation efforts and the world famous Okavango Delta is a huge focus of wildlife rehabilitation initiatives in the country. In 2014 the Okavango Delta became a UNESCO World Heritage site, meaning that it has been recognised as being of outstanding international importance and as such worthy of special protection.
"Our focus as a conservation group is to continue offering incredible safari experiences to our guests through dedicated guiding, wildlife interpretation and giving our guests an appreciation of nature in its wildest truest form. Not forgetting our commitment to communities neighbouring these wild areas and of course our struggle to protect the rhino." Alistair Rankin - Machaba Camp
How can I help from here in Australia?
If you're not planning to travel to Africa for a little while and still want to contribute then there are some truly wonderful charities that we work closely with and can recommend from personal experience. We support conservation and community focussed charities based in Kenya as this is where our parent company is located. This means that we are very hands on with the charities we support.
We are head over heels in love with The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. We don't pass through Nairobi without popping in to visit their beautiful baby orphaned elephants - and all the eles that we personally foster. Without the Trust most (if not all) of these babies wouldn't have stood a chance out in the wild as orphans. The wildlife services just don't have the budgets to commit to the long term care and rehabilitation of wildlife, sadly. The baby animals are brought in and raised in Nairobi before being released back into the wild in Tsavo when they are strong enough. For just US$50 you can foster a baby elephant for a year.
If you'd like to support an Australia based charity then we really love The Askari Project. Founder Bradd Johnston was inspired by his travels to Africa and felt compelled to set up a charity in Australia to raise funding and support for elephant conservation and the protection of some of the last Great Tuskers of Africa. All funds are directed to the operations and on the ground efforts of The Tsavo Trust, a charity that is very personal to us too. They assist the Kenya Wildlife Service in aerial and ground monitoring of the big tusked elephants in Tsavo - home to 80% of the world's big tuskers and also home to our safari camp - Satao Camp. We first came across The Askari Project when we found their amazing shop, which sells a range of products including some beautiful jewellery made from collected snare wire in Zambia's Luangwa Valley, as well as their Askari branded wine. Buy all of your Christmas pressies here! You will be supporting a truly great cause!
Bench is proud to support the New Hope Children’s Home in Mombasa, which is currently home to 47 children aged between three and 16 years. Many of them are from homeless single parent families, whilst other children’s parents have died either from HIV or other diseases. Bench Africa, together with our parent company, Southern Cross Safaris feeds all the children with three healthy meals every day. If you want to help then you too can make a donation to this fantastic cause.
And when you do travel to Africa then make sure you Pack for a Purpose! You can have a huge impact in the communities you visit simply by packing supplies needed by community projects around the world. The cost is minimal but the knock on effect is overwhelming. Just check the website for a full list of projects supported by the properties you may be visiting and the specific needs that they have.
At Bench Africa we believe that travel can make the world a better place. Through purposeful, extraordinary interactions and experiences we can make a difference in the world. It is our job to inspire our travellers and safeguard the beautiful African countries that we visit, contributing to the communities and the wildlife that inhabit them.
With every footprint on African soil we hope to replenish and we are delighted when we hear that we have inspired travellers to do the same. We are entirely committed to continuing this for as long as we have the incredible privilege to be able to do so.