When it came to Conservation and Sustainability, our panel were looking for projects or initiatives that put Planet Earth on center stage, showing due responsibility to our natural resources and going above and beyond to protect our legacy – for the good of not only the tourism industry, but the rest of the world.
Discover this year’s shortlist below and remember to vote for your winner by 12 September. The winners will be revealed at the Awards Party in Marrakech on Tuesday 13 September, brought to you by Tourism Australia and hosted by Sofitel Palais Impérial.
CHELI & PEACOCK SAFARIS
The objective of this partner project with Honeyguide was to establish a sustainable and effective way of reducing life-threatening conflict between elephants and local farmers in the Randilen Wildlife Management Area of Tanzania. By achieving this reduction, Cheli & Peacock Safaris is protecting the lives of elephants and the livelihoods of farming families.
HOW WAS IT IMPLEMENTED?
This project was implemented following leadership meetings, household surveys and focus group discussions, where local farmers voiced their distress over how elephants destroyed their crops. By providing toolkits that include LED torches, fire horns, chilli bombs and ‘roman candle’ fireworks to deter elephants from raiding, Cheli & Peacock Safaris enables farmers to protect their crops, and ultimately, their livelihoods.
This ongoing project is continuously effective and successful in deterring. One of the field officers, Loiruk A. Mollel, sums it up perfectly when he says, “We have saved more crops this year than any other. Farmers and communities become so much more supportive of conservation when you help protect their livelihoods.”
DESERT & DELTA SAFARIS
Desert & Delta Safaris wanted to launch Africa’s first fleet of electric powered CO2 emission free safari vehicles and boats. Operating inside the renowned Chobe National Park of Botswana – Chobe Game Lodge was the ideal property from which to develop this initiative. In doing so the vision is to lead the way for cleaner safaris throughout the continent!
HOW WAS IT IMPLEMENTED?
In June 2016 the fourth diesel to electric conversion took place, joining the three solar and electric powered safari boats at Chobe Game Lodge. Not only are they extremely quiet, ideal for wildlife encounters, but a combination of solar-panels on the safari boats and hydro-electric power to the region ensures this initiative is 100% CO2 emission free.
Over half the lodge’s safari boats and vehicles are converted. Now officially the first electric safari fleet. To date +38,000kg of CO2 emissions and +15,000 litres of fuel has been saved. Guests enjoy a quieter, more authentic safari and the natural environment benefits from a cleaner operation. Chobe Game Lodge has assisted a number of operators in Africa to begin investing in converting to electric.
FREGATE ISLAND PRIVATE
To integrate Seychellois students passionate about nature and learning more about their country’s unique ecosystem with the conservation work done on Fregate. By enabling students to gain practical experience and highlighting the many facets to a career in conservation, Fregate Island Private hopes the students will share their enthusiasm for preserving the environment with their peers in the local community.
HOW WAS IT IMPLEMENTED?
In November 2015 the first students arrived. The students participated in a variety of ongoing conservation projects such as monitoring of the critically endangered Hawksbill turtle. A daily record of their activities was kept in order to present their experience to classmates once they returned to school. They also completed a small questionnaire so we could assess the success of the project.
The project has been a huge success, see the following quotes:
“I learned how to use new equipment, how to handle turtles…and many other things”
“The other volunteers helped me to increase my knowledge which is a huge benefit for me. It has helped me to open my mind in my career choices in marine conservation.”
Fregate Island Private is looking forward to hosting 3 more local students this July 2016.
OL JOGI LTD
Ol Jogi identified that one of their Eastern Black Rhinos, Alfie, had developed mature bilateral cataracts and had become totally blind as a result. The rhino was moved to a holding facility. Subsequent research directed them to an ophthalmologist veterinarian in South Africa, who has successfully performed several cataract surgeries on rhinos. Their objective was to restore sight to this critically endangered Eastern Black Rhino so that it could later contribute to the Kenya and global meta-population.
HOW WAS IT IMPLEMENTED?
Kenya Wildlife Service authorisation was obtained. Approvals from the Kenya Veterinary Board for a foreign vet to practice in Kenya were received. Consultation and dialogue with the concerned veterinarian was conducted; travel and accommodation was facilitated. Alfie was immobilised by a specialist team, loaded onto a pallet and electrically winched into the operating theatre.
Whilst one team of veterinarians focused solely on the anaesthesia, the ophthalmologist veterinarian went to work on the rhino’s eyes. Immediately, he concluded that both eyes were inoperable, due to previously undiagnosed damage within the aqueous matter between the rhino’s lenses and retinas. Despite this outcome, the initiative has “opened doors”. Local conservationists are now sensitised to the opportunity and feasibility of such an undertaking, previously unheard of in Kenya.
For SUJÁN conservation always comes first. For over 40 years they have been dedicated to Tiger Conservation in Ranthambhore. To succeed they needed cohesive conservation efforts between the Forest Department and local communities. They have funded & facilitated an ongoing collaborative project with the Rajasthan State Forest Department and the Village Wildlife Watch Volunteers Programme to ensure better patrolling and monitoring of the tigers.
DESCRIBE THE IMPLEMENTATION
SUJÁN encouraged local communities to get involved in their cohesive conservation mission. They provided dozens of local farmers and villages with smartphones to record wildlife movement and report important information about wildlife related crimes; donated camera traps to volunteers to regularly track and monitor tiger movement in and around the periphery of the Ranthambhore National Park; and give jeeps to do regular patrols of the forest.
WHAT WERE THE RESULTS?
Together they have successfully tracked the movements of the transient tigers to establish natural corridors so they are protected better. In the last year alone SUJÁN has been able to track the key movement of at least three tigers who transited the Tiger Reserve in search of new territories. Originally believed to be missing or poached the iconic specimens were located using camera traps and regular patrols. The population of 36 tigers in 2010 has risen to 61 today.
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