Wildlife poaching will take centre stage at the opening ceremony of the World Responsible Tourism Day at World Travel Market on November 7th.
WTM World Responsible Tourism Day, with the World Responsible Organisation UNWTO, is considered the world’s biggest and most ambitious responsible tourism initiative.
Mantis, a collection of privately owned luxury boutique hotels and eco-escapes around the world, has a long and established heritage and focus on conservation lead tourism and creating awareness for environmental issues.
It all started with the incredible development of an eroded and abused 2,000 hectares of land which now stands proudly as Shamwari Game Reserve, 25,000 hectares in size and which has seen the re-introduction of all the large game that once thrived in the Eastern Cape.
Shamwari has since become the blueprint internationally for successful sustainable conservation tourism and today, Mantis continues in this vein with three main projects around responsible tourism.
Voices of Conservation
‘Voices of Conservation’ is a project set up by Worldwide Experience, the educative arm of Mantis, to drive awareness to the issues of rhino-poaching in South Africa and also to start a new breeding programme to increase rhino populations.
‘Voices of Conservation’ aims to inspire the youth of today through inviting them to come up with creative ideas, in a two minute video clip, to help tackle this increasing problem.
Working with schools around the country, ‘Voices of Conservation’ are joining forces with Knowsley Safari Park to fly Balu, a two year old white rhino to South Africa, the team with the best idea will follow Balu and work for five days on a conservation and breeding programme.
As part of the project, Worldwide Experience will also create educational materials to be rolled out in schools across the country to further build conservation education into day-to-day learning.
International Anti-Poaching Foundation
Located on the private reserve at Mantis’ Stanley and Livingstone Hotel, Victoria Falls, the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF) headed up by Damian Mander runs various courses to educate on the effects of poaching.
Learning from existing anti-poaching teams, Damian Mander has invested his life savings into setting up the IAPF, which now takes up to 40 trainee rangers at a time.
According to the IAPF illegal trafficking of wildlife now ranks third on the list of world’s criminal activities and although wildlife numbers are still a huge issue in Zimbabwe, the Stanley and Livingstone Game Reserve has now doubled its population and can give black rhino to other struggling reserves.
IAPF runs various courses including recruitment and deployment of anti-poaching teams, leadership courses, instructor courses, specialist courses in tracking/medicine and a volunteer programme where people come from all over the world to lend their services.
Nakavango Conservation Programme
This project focuses on 5 main areas including education, conservation management, conservation research projects, community development and sustainability.
The programme, which lasts for two to four weeks, includes activities such as anti-poaching snare sweeps, raptor conservation, elephant, black rhino and buffalo monitoring, waterhole creation and tutoring and sports coaching for children.
During time off, volunteers can book one of the many activities at Victoria Falls, including white water rafting, bungee jumping, horse-back safaris and helicopter rides over the falls.
WTM will host World Responsible Tourism Day with leading conservation group, Tusk, launched in 1990 to help combat the first wave of the devastating effects of ivory poaching in Kenya.
“Rhino in South Africa alone are being poached at the rate of one every 18 hours and some estimates suggest that as many as 35 000 elephants were slaughtered last year from an overall population of between 350 000 and 400 000,” said Fiona Jeffery, chairperson of World Travel Market.
Visit the official website for the full programme.