Although we went to to Tanzania to be part of an expedition to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, what we looked forward to the most was going on safari after Kilimanjaro! We spent time in both the Serengeti National Park and at Ngorongo Crater. Seeing endless wildlife in such beautiful natural surroundings left me speechless. Sadly I wonder if views like this may not be possible in the future.
Animals in the news
Trophy hunting made national news when Cecil the lion was shot this past year. While some airlines are now prohibiting transporting big game carcasses, it is still allowed by other airlines. At the same time the White Rhino is facing extinction from habitat loss and poaching. On our trip to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater we saw only a handful of black rhino and our guides were unsure if we would see any. How many years are left before safaris as amazing as what I witnessed are not even possible?
Poaching of elephants is also a huge problem in Tanzania. Rangers risk their lives in an all out war to save these intelligent animals. The huge demand from the Asian and US black markets for tusks is devastating elephant populations. Parks are patrolled by armed guards and rangers all they can yet in 2015 the population of elephants in Tanzania dropped 60 per cent since 2009! Learning on safari how these animals mourn the death of other elephants made my heart heavy for these majestic creatures.
Can you feel the love tonight? The Lion King
The world is quickly changing. There are less places that are truly wild. Each day on safari we felt like we were in a cross between a National Geographic television show and the real life Lion King. The Serengeti is a place where witnessing animals migrating is still possible. I truly hope that wildness does not change and my children can one day see such incredible natural sights.
Effects of deforestation
In 2013 Tanzania was listed as the world’s highest rate of deforestation. Each action then causes another, less forest leads to rivers and streams drying up. This change in water affects the climate in turn. The resulting global warming is something we witnessed first hand on Mt Kilimanjaro. The stunning glaciers on the summit were once along the edge of the trail an arms reach away our guides told us, just two years ago. In that short time they have receded to about 1/4 km away. As much as I wanted to see these glaciers up close there was no way this exhausted hiker was going to walk up and down a hill that far.
The money behind it
The larger issue of poverty in Africa will need to be addressed to solve these issues. Trees are cut down for heat and building materials. Trophy hunting is allowed due to the huge amount of money a hunter pays. People desperate to take care of their families resort to poaching for the big pay off. While tourism is still the biggest money maker for Tanzania that does not benefit all people in the country.
If the possible loss of habitat and animals wasn’t enough to make you book a trip, this bit of news may have you making plans. South Africa is facing some economic hardship which means trips are less than ever. Want to help South Africa, plan a safari and stay longer in the area. If more people went on safari the tourism industry would grow and therefore become more important. It could start an endless good cycle of people then caring more for the environment and animals to protect the tourism industry. A win for both the animals and the countries involved.
Travel wish list
There are many phenomenal natural sites in the world to see. My wish list of green travel trips grows each day to a point I know I will never see it all. Some trips may not be possible in the future though and some far less amazing than they are now. No one can predict what will happen in the future. I recommend you go on safari now!