This is a series of case studies that demonstrate how Kenyan responsible tourism operators are coping with the effects COVID-19

Tourism operators are grappling with the effects of COVID-19 on travel, jobs, protection of wildlife and safeguarding livelihoods that depend on the industry for survival. While there is no denying the global pandemic is here with us, we will highlight the Ecotourism Kenya members who have risen above it and are creating ripples of positivity and sustainability.  This will be in a series of bi-monthly case studies featuring our membership with a call for support.

#1: SUNWORLD SAFARIS

A Ray of Positivity in the Face of Covid-19

Name of Project: Community Wildlife Fund (CWF)

Founder: Gabriele Nowark – Director – SunWorld Safaris

Location of Project: Maasai Mara, Amboseli, Samburu, Tsavo regions

Funds mobilized: USD 20,000 as at May 2020

Sunworld Safaris, who also run the Gold rated Mara Bush Camps, has started a project called the Community Wildlife Fund (CWF) – an initiative to support communities and protect Kenya’s Wildlife.

The CWF project was born out of the current crisis in the tourism industry in Kenya. Our tourism sector is heavily reliant on wildlife and local communities. These two factors are the key to success of our safaris. With no tourists coming in a concoction of problems starts to cook. One, the adjacent communities that earn their living from tourism activities become financially strained. We are talking of an abrupt job loss on a massive scale of community scouts, guides, drivers, naturalists, artisans, service staff in lodges and camps etc. Second, lack of human traffic in the wildlife protection areas presents a ripe opportunity for poaching activities. Let us not forget the children in these areas, who like every other child in Kenya are facing challenges due to the interruption in their education

How it works

The project is anchored on collecting funds from well-wishers who donate to the CWF fund. The fund is promoted through scenic, high quality live broadcasts, shot from various locations in the parks and reserves. This unique approach, keeps potential tourists connected with Kenya and keeps our tourism sector alive, albeit in a small way. We believe this could also be therapeutic in this lockdown period as it offers a mental escape from being cooped up in the house.  The movement of the vehicles in the park solve one of the problems highlighted above by deterring poachers in these areas. It also presents another solution of keeping in employment some drivers and guides. The money collected is used to purchase the most important / basic food items such as maizemeal, beans, lentils, rice, sugar, tea leaves, as well as soap and masks. The funds will also be used to support the local children in their education by providing gadgets and data bundles to access E-learning platforms such as the Kenya Education Cloud.

The project was envisioned to be implemented in the Masai Mara, Amboseli, Samburu and Tsavo regions. The intention is to support about 500 households by the time of completion. The CWF project is initially intended to provide support to communities for a period of 6-8 months, until some form of tourism resumes in the country. However there are some long term objectives, especially with regards to supporting conservation education for the local children.

The Success so Far

For a vision this big, it has taken hours of dedicated work and input to realize and get traction. So far the project has raised over 20,000 USD and supported communities in Maasai Mara and Lake Magadi regions.  The project purchased food care packages and masks for 200 households in Oloochurra Village & Ntamejo Village as well as one distribution in Lake Magadi.

The project is also looking into other various components to engage the local children in conservation from an early age. They include educating the children on conservation matters through an online platform tailored in the local Maa language and game drives for the local children (how exciting!)

Though the progress has been good so far, the project has also encountered some challenges as follows:

  • Due to the risks posed by Covid-19, restriction on movement in certain areas has been imposed and it is more difficult to get permissions and endorsements from official authorities to travel or distribute food freely to the communities;
  • In adequate accommodation for guides in / around parks / reserves / communities as most camps/hotels are not operational due to low business;
  • Creating awareness on the need to make a change and sustain our wildlife / community for the long term as this may be a golden opportunity!
  • Mobilizing funds is also difficult during this time as many people throughout the world face financial difficulty and there are many charities to support;
  • Flooded parks / inaccessible roads / broken bridges to reach communities.

Take part in the CWF project

The CWF is currently working with a number of partners within the industry, including; Extrakt Travel, Wild Focus Expeditions, Viewfinders, African Springs Safaris and Mara Bush Camp. The project needs the support of more partners in the industry to make an even greater impact. You can be part of this project by offering a financial donation or accommodation / food donations / masks but also by sharing details of this project locally and internationally on social media / YouTube etc.

Your donation to this cause with support all the key aspects of the project. The Fund will cover costs of fuel, vehicle maintenance, salaries, park fees where necessary, accommodation & food for the guides as well as food donations to the local communities surrounding the reserves / parks as well as education materials for the children in the villages.

If you would like to be a part of this kindly contact the project lead directly on: info@community-wildlife.org or gabriele@sunworldsafaris.com. You can also get more information, follow the progress and positive impact of the project from their website and social media pages on:

Web-site: www.community-wildlife.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/communitywildlifefund/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/community_wildlife_fund/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FundCwf

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCM42pX3Q3QlxJu1AH6mx5mQ

 

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