Rescuing wildlife in Namibia

While 2011 has been a bad year for African wildlife, a foundation in Namibia is making a difference.

The N/a’an ku sê Foundation, which runs a wildlife sanctuary in Namibia, announced its best year to date, the Namibian reports. Last year the Foundation rescued, rehabilitated and re-released several animals, including five cheetahs, two leopards, one brown hyena, two caracals and one serval. It also rescued and cared for numerous other animals.

The Foundation was started by Namibian conservationists in 2006. Located near the capital Windhoek, the wildlife reserve relies on donations to survive and is open to volunteers, in case you want to have an adventure vacation that makes a difference. A wildlife sanctuary cares for injured or orphaned animals that can’t be released back into the wild. For some luxury travel, you can also stay at their lodge.

The main goal of the foundation is to find the best way for wildlife and humans to share the same land. Africa’s population is steadily growing, putting ever more pressure on wildlife. Yet wildlife is an economic boon to Africa, bringing in hard currency from tourism. The Foundation also provides primary education and healthcare to the San Bushmen and employs several to work with guests and the animals.

Photo courtesy Claire Wormley.

Controversy over Condé Nast Traveler’s World Savers Awards

The popular magazine Condé Nast Traveler hosts the annual World Savers Awards to recognize the efforts of hotels, airlines, tour and cruise companies that give something back through their environmental or social programs. But one recipient of the 2010 award is attracting controversy over its actions.

Wilderness Safaris won this year’s award in the Health Initiatives category for its HIV/AIDS program, which includes the construction of clinics in South Africa, Zambia, and Malawi. Now Survival International, which supports the rights of indigenous peoples, says Wilderness Safaris falls short of its image as positive force in the community.

It points to its new luxury lodge, the Kalahari Plains Camp, set on the traditional lands of the Bushmen in Botswana. The lodge boasts a bar and swimming pool while the Bushmen have to walk for miles to get water. The local people used to have a well, but the government capped it when it kicked the Bushmen off the land in 2002. Survival International and the Bushmen went to court and won the right for the Bushmen to return to their lands, but the government still won’t allow them to reopen the well.

Wilderness Safaris says providing water isn’t their responsibility, but Survival International points out that they constructed a well near one of their resorts in Zimbabwe in order to attract more wildlife.

How much responsibility does a resort have to the local community? Tell us what you think in the comments section.

[Photo courtesy Ian Beatty]

On the trail of the Kalahari bushmen

A few days back we posted about 18 unique travel experiences that even the seasoned traveler would find interesting. One of the suggestions on that list was to travel to the Kalahari Desert to stay with bushmen and partake in an initiation hunt with the tribes that still wander the remote regions of southern Africa.

Recently, travel writer Sally Emerson journeyed to Botswana to go in search of the bushmen herself. She wrote about her adventures for the Times Online, as she explored the Okavango Delta and the Kalahari, following in the footsteps of author Laurens Van der Post, who published The Lost World of the Kalahari back in 1956. The book has become one of the seminal works on the bushmen and their culture.

Both Emerson, and Van der Post before her, were searching for the San Bushmen, one of five distinct tribes that are spread out across South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Angola, and Botswana. Today, it is believed that less than 100,000 of the bushmen remain, but those that do, maintain close ties to their culture, and the land on which they live.

Emerson says that the bushmen that she met were able to teach her about the plants and animals of the Kalahari while showing her how to set traps and hunt as well. They displayed a deep understanding of what their surroundings could provide for them, allowing them to survive for extended periods of time in the desert. Many of the tribesmen are now guides, and are eager to share their history and culture with visitors from the rest of the world. Traveling to the Kalahari to spend some time with these guides would indeed makre for a unique and amazing travel experience.

18 unique travel experiences for the well traveled

So you think you’ve been everywhere and done everything? Is their something missing when you travel these days? Is the sense of adventure gone? Never fear, because the Times Online has compiled an interesting list of 18 unique travel experiences that are designed to give us a special experience on our getaways.

The suggestions on the list run the gamut from adventurous to decadent to down right surreal. For instance, if you’re headed to southern Africa, then you might want to stay with the bushmen of the Kalahari Desert, where you’ll have the opportunity to go on an initiation hunt and spend the night in their village. If that seems like you might be roughing it a bit too much, than perhaps you’d prefer to spend the night on a private island and go sailing off the coast of Croatia. How about taking an exclusive tour of Nefertari’s Tomb in Egypt, where you’ll be one of just 20 visitors in the soon to be closed monument. Or, how about the workout of a lifetime when you’ll be training with the the toughest rugby team on the planet, New Zealand’s All Blacks, , for one very intense week.

Each of the travel experiences comes with a good description of what you can expect on your unique adventure. A link is included to the travel company that is offering the trip, along with expected prices, in this case listed in pounds. But be warned, these one-of-a-kind experiences don’t come cheap, but how do you put a price tag on this kind of excitement?