Honored for community-based initiatives at Enashiva Nature Refuge
Arusha, Tanzania — The Tanzania Tourist Board has honored Thomson Safaris (www.thomsonsafaris.com) with the 2009 Tanzania Conservation Award.
The award specifically recognizes the company’s efforts in establishing and supporting the Enashiva Nature Refuge, a community-based conservation project east of the Serengeti.
On May 19, Enashiva’s project manager, Daniel Yamat, received the award on behalf of Thomson Safaris at a ceremony in Cairo, Egypt, which was attended by Tanzania’s minister of tourism, Shamsa Mwangunga, among other distinguished guests.
“Thomson Safaris is humbled to receive this honor,” said Yamat. “We owe our deepest gratitude to the Tanzania Tourist Board, the government, and, most of all, the Maasai communities around Enashiva that have helped make conservation successful. The award really belongs to them.”
Since conservation efforts began at Enashiva, wildlife populations have more the doubled in the area and sightings of endangered species such as wild dog have increased dramatically. Rare woodland habitats that support endangered tree species are also being restored.
Yamat, who is of Maasai heritage, collaborates with a liaison committee of Maasai elders and leaders who assist in guiding Enashiva’s principles and work with local communities on conservation efforts and community projects. In 2008, select projects included the development of a borehole and water well, support for a women’s entrepreneur group, and the donation of a maize-grinding machine. Yamat noted several projects that are in the planning stages for 2009.
“As tourists come to Enashiva, we hope more opportunities will open up,” said Yamat. “Wildlife and communities do not have to be in conflict with each other. They can both win.”
The Conservation Award marks the third honor Thomson Safaris has received from the Tanzania Tourist Board. In 2005, Thomson received the Humanitarian of the Year Award, and they were named Tour Operator of the Year in 2001. More recent recognitions include being named among the Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth by National Geographic Adventure in 2008 and 2009. Thomson Safaris was also a finalist for the 2008 Condé Nast World Savers Award, which recognized the company’s efforts in supporting education initiatives in Tanzania.
Thomson works closely with Friends of Tanzanian Schools (www.fotzs.org), a non-profit organization that has funded education projects at more than 12 schools that educate approximately 11,000 children annually. Earlier in 2009, FOTZS funded and facilitated the construction of teachers’ housing at Robanda Primary School, which has also received more than 3,000 donated textbooks from the organization. More than 40% of Thomson Safaris travelers visit schools in Tanzania and provide most of FOTZS’ funding through donations.