Green light for ethical African safari

Posted: 7 November 2005

African Initiatives, a social justice organisation and registered charity based in the UK, has launched its first ethical sponsored trek to Tanzania. And unlike some charity events, the organisers aim to directly benefit the communities concerned.

The safari is to the lands of the Maasai pastoralists and Hadza hunter-gatherers whose traditional lifestyle and environment is shared with the wildlife and diversity associated with East Africa.

The trek has been welcomed by the UK campaigning organisation,Tourism Concern, which has researched the negative impact of many of the charity challenges and sponsored activities.

"While millions of pounds are raised each year from sponsored charity challenges very little benefits the communities where they take place," said Tricia Barnett, Director of Tourism Concern. African Initiatives' trips are done in partnership with communities. Funds raised will go towards the pastoralists and hunter-gatherers for land rights, women's rights and girls' education.

"The trek is also an opportunity to learn about the host communities' way of life, the struggles they face and to understand how they live with the wildlife around them," she said.

Vast landscapes

For two weeks participants will have the opportunity to walk with and meet the Hadza hunter-gatherers - one of the world's truly indigenous peoples - and understand their fight for survival. They will stay with a Maasai community, and hear about their struggles and hopes.

The trek will cross vast landscapes of great beauty, including wildlife, volcanoes, the World Heritage site of Ngorongoro Crater, the arid savannah plains of the Serengeti and the dry and sacred Lake Natron area.

"Using a professional, experienced Tanzanian company helps the local economy, providing jobs and giving opportunities to young Tanzanians. Many of the companies used for charity challenges are based in the UK so fees don't get to Africa." said Tricia Barnett.

Numbers on each trek are restricted to reduce the inevitable negative impact of dozens of people wandering through communities and their environment.

"We want to be up-front about the costs of the safari. This is a fabulous opportunity and participants and their sponsors should know where their money is going," said Mike Sansom, the Co-ordinator of African Initiatives.

"This is an opportunity to walk with, learn, share, and support these unique communities in an exclusive adventure. It is also a chance to trek back into our past, from hunter-gatherers to pastoralists and farmers."

African Initiatives has been working with pastoralists and hunter-gatherers in Tanzania for eight years. They are part of the Make Poverty History coalition.

The first Sponsored Safari is in March 2006 and costs £2,200. African Initiatives plans to run at least two trips per year. The Sponsored Safari is part of its ethical fundraising policy.

For more information e-mail or see their website www.african-initiatives.org.uk