In a difficult time for the world, when many of us are stuck in isolation, it’s an incredible time to reflect and challenge ourselves, and we ask you to remember us here in Africa. We can either challenge ourselves to complete tasks we have been putting off, learn new skills, catch up with those we haven’t spoken to in a while (on the phone!) or we can complete Netflix! Or all of them! It is not often we are told ‘hey, go take a break’ so use this time wisely! Take a rest, you deserve it, look after yourself, this is a tough time and mental and physical health are important - keep moving, keep in touch and keep the brain ticking! Whilst you do, we want you to keep in mind what is happening here.
In this time of great uncertainty, the travel and hospitality industries have essentially shut down. With a total ban on travel, many lodges are closing their doors for the first time and airlines stopping their flights. Whilst this is a necessary procedure to stop the spread of COVID19 this is also devastating for our normally joyful industry. With absolutely no money coming in, many staff have had to be laid off, put on part time or reduced salaries. Whilst we know this is happening globally, Africa is already a continent that suffers from poverty and this will have an overwhelming impact on our industry and could have a devastating impact on wildlife conservation as well.
From the many staff members who now have even smaller wages or none at all, to the guides now out of a job, to the conservation and community projects that are now not being funded by bed nights and park fees. Whilst we realise Africa already receives lots of aid, (we have all seen the UNICEF adverts), this is not a request for the usual hand-out, this is a request to ask to help support those that have worked hard and now sadly find themselves in a difficult situation. A request to keep staff members with an income, community projects going and in turn keep conservation a priority. As people turn to desperation for food, water, firewood etc. it is our protected havens that become target zones.
We are asking you to think of the guide who showed you your first elephant, the barman in the lodge that smiled and chatted to you as they poured that ice cold G&T, the spotter who found the shining eyes of a leopard on the prowl, the bush chef who made an incredible 3 course meal in the middle of nowhere or the hosts who couldn’t have done more to provide anything you needed on your trip. It is these hard working individuals that now find themselves at a loss, with families of their own to feed and shelter. View our YouTube video here to help bring back these memories.
Over the next few weeks we will be starting the campaign #photos4africa, where we are going to be creating content to showcase what a beautiful nation this is. From our majestic animals, awe-inspiring landscapes or happy, friendly people. We aim to offer any content to you for free and we ask anyone in the industry who can offer photos, prints, videos, paintings to get online and tag #photos4africa along with this Go Fund Me page which will directly support their staff and their projects. We want to offer support to all those that work tirelessly for little pay or reward all because we believe in what we do and we love it! We love the bush, the animals, the flora, the people around us! If you have ever met us, you know the enthusiasm that spills from us as we highlight our allotted countries, national parks and lodges! Just ask Chloe, she could talk all day about everything from African Park success stories to star guided dung beetles, Francis whose great love of birds has him giving us weekly listed updates on our feathered friends, Kennedy who beams as he welcomes each guest in as though it was a long lost family member, or Tapiwa who works all hours of the day to plan the perfect trips for clients!
It is going to be a tough year but we are in this together. So if you can donate a little something let us give a little something too, a cool picture of a lion to print and put on your wall, a thank you from one of the guides or simply some great karma, please do keep us in mind. Allow us to have a future and welcome you into it. We urge you keep booking in the future to help us now, keep supporting the projects which support life here and if you can give a little extra to those who need a little help we would be extremely grateful.
Thich Nhat Hanh - “Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”
Voices From The Field - ATTA is providing this space for the benefit of our members for building awareness within our community. The views and opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily ATTA’s, nor do we endorse them by their publication.