By ‘Safari’ Kay
Actually several years before I actually started my business, it’s been almost sixteen years since I’ve now been traveling back and forth to Tanzania, over 40 trips and groups throughout those years. That’s a lot of trips and a lot of groups, each one special in its own way! Here’s how things have changed, and here’s why you won’t want to wait until the changes are so drastic, they impact your visit or there will be no reason to visit. I’ve been shouting the message loud and clear for most of those years. Some have finally gotten it. Others are still scratching their head, wondering why take a trip to Africa, to any part of Africa. Some may never go and that’s alright if they understand why it has no interest to them. But for others, for those that have ever thought of it in any way, fantasy or otherwise, I hope that you will listen to the importance of what I’m about to share with you!
When I started this business, being an animal lover wasn’t even part of the equation, it was more about the experience of seeing the animals in their natural habitat, it was about the people, and the cultural diversity and the beauty of the land. In fact, I’ve never considered myself a true animal lover, (i.e., I love dogs, but not so crazy about cats, but that doesn’t make me dislike animals in general, as I hear some people generalize), but I always loved that nature provided us with options, with such great and different species to marvel and admire. Today, those things haven’t changed, it’s still about that, but priorities have changed and that is why I think it’s so important to point these things out, again and again and again. Does anyone remember what I tell people about their ‘bucket’ list item. TAKE IT OFF YOUR BUCKET LIST AND PUT IT ON YOUR LIVE LIST! Make it happen! Life is about moments and experiences. Make this one of them!
The message I’ve been trying to convey about the wildlife has gotten critical. Google it if you like! You’ll find headline after headline about declining animal populations. Many countries have lost 1/3 of their elephant population over just the past few years. Rhinos are all but extinct now, with few and limited sightings in specific countries. Cheetahs, Lions and Leopards are losing their habitat, with more land encroachment happening much more frequently. What will there be left to see over the next several years? I can certainly see the differences that have occurred since I have been traveling, it has reached crisis
proportions, where everyday in the news media, there is more and more happening, in larger numbers, 26 elephants killed, 6 lions of the same pride killed, 15 rhino shot for their horns. I’ve even talked to hunters in my travels to Africa, and while I don’t like hunting of any kind, (except with a camera), I have learned that, in certain cases, ‘ethical and legal’ hunting does have its benefits for the environment.
However, when hundreds and hundreds of animals, are being slaughtered for trophies,
for the sport of killing, for Ivory and rhino horn demand, it’s heartbreaking, and devastating. Although it’s unlikely, that you would ever see such a thing, it will set
your soul on fire, to see an elephant with its face hacked off just to get at that long and beautiful ivory tusk, that once were so useful by this living creature. If you’ve ever seen the intervention of the Wildlife Wardens, together with Wildlife veterinarians when they must remove a snare, or a poisonous dart left at the hands of a poacher, keen to return for their ‘treasures’, it will break your heart. Animals can’t communicate with us, they communicate amongst themselves, but their plight speaks to us every day in many different ways!
Most people who say they don’t like animals, and many do, don’t turn away when they see an elephant, and say ‘I don’t like animals’. Instead, they sit and watch them for hours, in awe, with admiration and appreciation of being able to see one in person. I love watching their expressions, and even today, years later, I do the same thing, even though I’ve seen it a hundred times. Want to know something, the drivers, do it too, and they’ve been doing this for a lot more years than I’ve been bringing groups.
I’m doing my small part to help change perceptions, ideas, stereotypes, and to help with the conservation efforts in any small way that I can. I am not an orator, my blogs won’t be published in any major newspaper, I will not reach millions of readers, but if I can impact even a few readers, it will be worth it. Because animals are unable to voice their concerns, someone must speak for these beautiful creatures, someone must take the word to the general public about what is happening, someone must point out that soon you will do nothing more than read about these beautiful creatures that have been given to us and graced our lands with their presence. Today, I am that person!