I am always amused when I hear someone claim their’s is the “best approach” to Wildlife Conservation. As a Wildlife Conservationist, I adhere to the wholistic approach – everyone, every group, every method, who is striving toward the same goal of saving Endangered Animals, plays a vital role in Wildlife Conservation.
And, there are profoundly different approaches, all of whom should be cheered and lauded for their parts in helping save the Endangered Wildlife of Africa. Here are 9 of my favorites, with some new approaches making the list as well. Please feel free to put your favorite in the comment section!
1- Boots on the Ground
With the increase in violent poaching in the past few decades, there has emerged groups of highly trained Counter or Anti-Poaching Units (APUs). Two such groups are Vetpaw and the Black Mamba APU. These highly trained “Boots on the Ground” APUs conduct Wildlife Conservation by going on the offensive against often highly armed, dangerous Criminal Poachers.
Vetpaw was founded by Ryan Tate with the idea of using his military experience. Mr. Tate’s group’s approach to Wildlife Conservation began after he “…interviewed his colleagues and saw the difficulties and frustrations of men and women who are highly skilled in combat-related areas, but unable to leverage those skills in a conventional civilian setting. They have a continuing dedication to serve others, and Ryan helps them channel it.”
The Black Mamba APU consists of 33 Women and 1 Man working in boundaries of the 52,000ha Balule Nature Reserve, which is part of the Greater Kruger National Park, South Africa. Their objectives include educating “…their communities to understand that the benefits are greater through rhino conservation rather than poaching, addressing the social and moral decay that is a product of the rhino poaching within their communities. They are concerned for their children’s sake as the false economy has brought loose morals and narcotics into their communities.”
Both groups offer back-up and assistance to the courageous Wildlife Rangers who put their lives on the line everyday to stop Poaching. Bravo to VetPaw and The Black Mambas!
2- Artificial Intelligence
One of the hottest, most exciting new developments in Wildlife Conservation is the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Headquartered in Washington, DC, the nonprofit RESOLVE's Biodiversity and Wildlife Solutions Program just announced its new TrailGuard AI.
Without getting too technical, the way this AI works is:
“TrailGuard AI is the first wildlife-oriented security camera system designed for the rigors of the bush that combines: easy concealment due to its small size (i.e. the length of one’s index finger), human detection algorithms performed on the Intel computer vision processing unit housed in the camera head, long battery life, and near-real time connectivity to alert rangers at park HQs to be able to make timely interventions.”
As my good friend Matt Thomas, who has long been interested in and studies AI says, ”AI is like any other major advancement in technology. We can use it for great evil or great good. It is our choice.” TrailGuard AI, and its ability to help Conserve African Wildlife, is most definitely for the greater good.
3- Activist Groups
Often giving the loudest “voice” to Conservation, Activists Groups play a central role in saving the Endangered African Wildlife. There are so many wonderful groups, I will highlight one whose work I have supported and who’s current Chief Operating Officer (CEO) is one of the Powerhouse Stars in African Wildlife Conservation.
WildlifeDirect (previously the Africa Conservation Fund) was founded in 2004 by the beloved conservationist, Dr. Richard Leakey, and former World Bank Representative to Kenya, Harold Wackman. With this great heritage, in 2008 Paula Kahumbu became CEO of WildlifeDirect. Under her Leadership, she has helped transform Conservation in Kenya. Through her work, WildlifeDirect playing an instrumental role in seeing the first ever, First Lady of an African Nation, adopt a Conservation Campaign. Through the “Hands Off Our Elephants” Ms Kahumbu’s WildlifeDirect has been a guiding force in changing the way Kenyans view Wildlife Conservation.
As the video above from the Nairobi 2015 “Global March for Elephants & Rhinos” shows, Activist Groups play a key role in having local communities become involved in Wildlife Conservation. I had the honor of attending and meeting Ms. Kahumbu in person and march with her during the rally. Again, each approach to Wildlife Conservation is like the Ecology itself, we all have a role to play.
This may be a bit controversial. And, by Zoos, I mean modern-day, state-of-the-art, compassionate, well designed Zoos. I am of the opinion that Zoos are one of the Cornerstones of Wildlife Conservation. Aside from the great work they do to help protect animals, it is here, at the Zoo, where many children first learn about Wildlife. For some children, seeing a Giraffe, or an Elephant at the Zoo will spark a lifelong love of Wildlife, which I believe can lead to a passion for Conservation.
Additionally, a lot of people don’t know about the amazing work modern day, state-of-the-art Zoos are doing – beyond the gates of the Zoos. In fact, the Wildlife Conservation Society, founded in 1895, is actually the international branch of the New York Zoological Society/Bronx Zoo. I proudly say, I worked for one of the oldest Conservation Zoos in the World!
No surprise this one is near and dear to my heart. I truly, deeply believe that traveling to Africa and seeing the animals in the wild, is life changing. I have seen time and time again the shifts in perspectives, the transformational experience that is going on Safari in Africa. Having been blessed with a set of skills and knowledge, born from living and working in Africa, it seems natural to bond my passion for International Development and Wildlife Conservation through being part of the Tourism Community.
But, it isn’t just me who sees the hand-in-hand relationship to Travel and Conservation. Each year The Explorers Club, of which I am a Member, Lowell Thomas Award is given. Nicknamed “The World’s Foremost Globetrotter,” Mr. Thomas instilled a passion for exploration, and conservation, at a time when the world was “opening up.” Mr. Thomas was a Member of The Explorers Club as well, and I hope to instill the same love of Travel and Conservation to others, just as he did for so many in his time.
6- Animal Sanctuaries
There are so many wonderful Animals Sanctuaries, all over the world, doing amazingly awesome work in Wildlife Conservation. One of the best known is the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT). Founded in 1977, DSWT has become “…today the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world and one of the pioneering conservation organisations for wildlife and habitat protection in East Africa.”
While DSWT is committed to re-introducing orphaned elephants to the wild, my all-time favorite Animal Sanctuary, The Elephant Sanctuary, South Africa, takes in Elephants who cannot be re-introduced into the wild. Through positive reinforcement domestication, these Elephants live out their lives being Ambassadors for their highly Endangered Species.
By interacting, ethically, with these magnificent Ambassadors, visitors to the Elephant Sanctuary can learn more about the true nature of the Endangered Elephants. It was during my first visit to the Elephant Sanctuary South Africa, over 10 years ago, where a deep love for and desire to save African Wildlife began to encircle my heart.
Animal Sanctuaries, and especially those working with the highly Endangered Elephants, have an extremely important role to play in Wildlife Conservation.
7- Animal Kingdom Parks
Much like Zoos, Animal Kingdom Parks have to be qualified. The Animal Kingdom Parks, of which I am speaking, offer safe “Safaris” and Wildlife Experiences. And, as with Zoos, I see these as highly beneficial for sparking an early interest in Wildlife Conservation in young children.
The best example I have of this is the experiences my friend Heidi Thomas (wife of aforementioned Matt Thomas!). Heidi & Matt have regularly taken their three children to experience Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Heidi has shared with me the true joys here children have gotten from their “Safaris.” I am not surprised honoring Walt Disney’s legacy with an Animal Kingdom Park. A little known fact, at the time of his death in 1966, Walt Disney had one of the largest African Mask Collections in the entire United States.
And, if Walt Disney’s and other Animal Kingdom Parks inspires future Wildlife Conservationists – I am all for them!
Often after a first Safari and seeing the African Wildlife in the wild, people often look for ways to share their soul changing experiences. Many also look for avenues to support and become part of Wildlife Conservation. One way of doing this is by writing a book.
For example, inspired by her first Safari, my Friend and Author, Mary Jane O'Loughlin, was inspired to write the book “Ruby and Baby an Unlikely Friendship.” It is through this book that she shares her love of African Wildlife while having a portion of the proceeds support, Amboseli Trust for Elephants.
Sharing her love for African Wildlife and supporting the Amboseli Elephants at the same time, Mary Jane greatly contributes to Wildlife Conservation!
9- Social Media Influencers
My favorite new way to approach Wildlife Conservation is Social Media Influencers using their Platforms. A unique, and extremely effective form of communication, these Influencers can reach a vast audience.
The perfect example of this is Social Media Influencer, Kait Hanson, of Communikait. Kait is a Lifestyle and Travel Blogger, Writer and Photographer. In addition to her exceptional Website & Blog, Communikait, Kait’s influence includes nearly 9,000 followers on Instagram. Her Communikait Facebook Page has over 3,000 Likes, and she has over 4,500 followers on Twitter. She rounds out her Social Media Powerhouse with 709.4k monthly viewers on Pinterest. That is a lot of Influence.
During her first Safari in Africa, Kait used her Social Media Platforms to showcase her Safari and the highly Endangered African Wildlife. Each of her posts had hundreds of Likes and Comments. For instance, her posts about seeing one of the last remaining Rhinos in the Wild, went out to her tens of thousands of followers. And, equally as important, to followers who may never been exposed to the realities of Endangered Animals and how close we are losing whole Species.
As a high-profile Social Media Influencer, Finch Hattons Luxury Tented Camp, asked Kait during her Safari to take over their Instagram Account. Located in Tsavo West National Park, Kenya, Finch Hattons astutely has realized the power of Infuencers in Social Media. And, they picked up numerous followers thanks to Kait’s Infuencer Status.
By using her powerful Social Media Influence, Kait is able to reach and educate a vast amount of people on the importance of saving Endangered African Wildlife. As one of the newest approaches to Wildlife Conservation – Kait’s contributions as a Social Media Influencer are the absolutely perfect Win-Win. A thousand cheers to Kait for all she does for Wildlife Conservation as a Social Media Influencer – Brava!
Thank you to everyone for
their role in Wildlife Conservation!
Happy Day! Safe Safari!
A wonderful evening at the Grand Hyatt Seoul celebrating the 55th Kenya Independence Day. Honored to be invited by the wonderful Ambassador Gello. An evening of warmth and friendship celebrating the truly magical Republic of Kenya!
World Travel Market Africa 2019
It is an honor for Flyga Twiga™ LLC to be invited for the 3rd consecutive year as a Fully Hosted Buyer to World Travel Market Africa (WTMA). Once again hosted by the City of Cape Town, South Africa, WTMA 2019 will bring together nearly 5,000 travel industry professionals, focusing on Africa and Middle East North Africa (MENA) Travel.
The World Travel Market will take place from Wednesday, April 10th through Friday, April 12th at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. WTMA offers Flyga Twiga™ an opportunity to meet in-person with In-Country Partners, Safari Lodges & Reserves, as well as the chance to take Familiarization (Fam) Trips to new and existing properties and ventures.
Thank you WTMA & Looking Forward To Seeing Old and Meeting New Africa Friends & Travel Colleagues in April!
One of my Most Amazing Golf Experiences, Playing Golf with Zebras Great Rift Valley Lodge & Golf Resort, Kenya
Safaris with Golf & Wine Tours
We are working on some new Safaris in South Africa, which include Wine & Golf Tours. In addition to seeing the amazing wildlife, there are also world class golf courses and more boutique and luxury wineries than you could see in a lifetime.
Korea World Travel Fair
The 33rd Korea World Travel Fair, which takes place 14-17 June 2018 at COEX in Seoul. I will be attending again this year as Media. I look forward to researching and writing new travel trends in the industry. The travel show is sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism; Korea Tourism Organization; and Visit Korea Committee.
New Safari Kit
I’m picking-up today a new Safari Suit I’m having made. Seoul Suits has a long, strong reputation in the Expat Community for top quality tailoring. I’ll do an update on how it turned out!
Naju City Historical Tour
On Saturday, June 16th I will be touring Naju City in role as a Member of the Foreign Advisory Committee of the Korea Heritage Society. This is a day-long trip and we will have to up early Saturday morning to hop on KTX and head to historic Naju City.
Happy Day! Safe Safari!
Mountain Gorilla Numbers Surpass 1,000!
The authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Rwanda, and Republic of Uganda release new census results. has just issued a Mountain Gorilla Census and the count is now over 1,000. Click here to read the Press Release.
This is truly awesome news and proves onece again how tourism promotes wildlife conservation. Click here or the Alpha Male (above) from the Nyakagezi Group in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda to see a suggested Gorilla Trekking Itinerary.
The below short video is of two Mountain Gorilla Brothers playing. They are part of the Nyakagezi Group in Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Uganda. This was shot when I was hosted by the Uganda Tourism Board during the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo in 2017.
Happy Day! Safe Safari!
In the week following World Travel Market Africa (WTMA) 2018, with the assistance of my South African Destination Management Company (DMC), I planned to do a tour along the famed Garden Route. While I couldn’t do the entire route, I did get a feel for this beautiful part of South Africa. Here are 5 unique discoveries I made during this super fun Road Trip through the Garden Route of South Africa!
1- Surprising History & Great Location
The first day of my post WTMA travels started with my checking out of my beloved Westin Cape Town. I only ventured across town to stay at the Protea Hotel by Marriott Cape Town Mowbray. The Marriott International had purchased the Cape Town based Protea Hotels in 2013. I was really interested to see how after 5 years how the integration into the Marriott fold had worked.
The Mowbray sits on one of the oldest Land Grants in South Africa. The main building is a converted Cape Dutch Manor House. For those who love history, this is a perfect place to stay in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town.
The River Club is nearby for those who love to golf. I attended a meeting at The River Club prior to WTMA and had a chance to speak with Jonathan, The River Club’s Sales Executive, tour the facilities, and see the course. The River Club, built in 1939 and now under new ownership, has undergone a deep renovation. Need a bit of inspiration for your game? If you hit a hole-in-one you win an Audi A1.
In addition, The River Club gets my award for one of the best named pubs in the world, “The Slug & Lettuce.”
2- The Best Afrikaans Sunday Brunch – Ever!
As we took off on a bright Sunday morning from Cape Town, we had a long 5 hour car drive ahead. I looked forward to traveling with my business colleague and family friend, Michael. Michael has all the qualities of the perfect traveling companion. He remains calm under pressure, and loves good food and luxury travel. So, leave it to Michael to find one of the best meals I’ve had in South Africa!
Located on South African Route 62, The Rambling Rose Restaurant in Montagu offers an exceptional Afrikaans Sunday Brunch. Having been traveling to and working in South Africa for 10 years now, the bar is set pretty high for delicious food. And, bar none this was the most delicious traditional Afrikaans food I have ever eaten. Their homemade Peri-Peri Sauce was so good, I ate half a large sized bottle. Nyom-Nyom!
3- When in the Western Cape, You Can Always Find a Local Wine!
The first overnight of our roadtrip was in the “Ostrich Capital of the World” Oudtshoorn. Here we stayed at Mooiplaas Guesthouse and Spa. In addition to getting the Estate Wine, another “Insider Tip” is to ask for “Guesthouse II.” If it is available this beautiful property is secluded across the road from the original Guesthouse. And, the staff is awesome. If you want to have wine with dinner, they will come and pick you and drop you off. And, be sure to take advantage of the Stargazing after dinner.
4- A Restaurant Who Can Even Cater To Jains
Located in the stunning town of Mossel Bay, Café Gannet Restaurant has a bright, relaxed-sophisticated interior and bar area overlooking the Indian Ocean. I met Managing Partner Janine at WTMA and was highly impressed with Café Gannet Restaurant’s ability to meet some of the most obscure dietary requirement, with one of those being the restrictive diet of Jains. The Restaurant has several stylish private rooms, perfect for a casual Business Dinner or privacy for a family traveling together.
We had a relaxing, delightful lunch and would make Café Gannet Restaurant a must-stop in Mossel Bay.
5- Small, Private Game Lodges Can Offer Niche Safaris
Would it come as any surprise that I believe each Safari experience has its merits? Located approximately 3 ½ hours (depending on road construction) from Cape Town is the Garden Route Game Lodge. The Lodge is going through a bit of an expansion. The owners of Garden Route Game Lodge are redoing the entire pool area, building a new spa, and adding more Villas. They are also acquiring more adjacent properties to increase their size.
We are placed in the Luxury Villas and the Owners’ eye for detail is clear. I found the amenities on par with 5 Star Luxury Safari Lodges. And, for those who are looking for a close Safari experience near Cape Town, Garden Route Game Lodge has exceptional Safari Guides. The other advantage with the location is that it is Malaria free. Thus, if you wanted to do a Beach / Golf / Wine South African Vacation, but still wanted to get in a Safari, this might a good place for you.
6 – Business Hotels Can Offer Great Services for the Weary Traveler
Nearing the end of my over two week Business Trip to South Africa, I chose to stay at the Protea Hotel by Marriott Stellenbosch. This is in what is called “Techno Park.” This hotel is a Conference and Meeting Center. It is so large they offer to take you to your room in a golf cart.
There is an additional Protea property in Stellenbosch, which has a spa. But, I knew I wanted to get laundry don, completely repack my two huge bags, and prepare for the 22 + hours flight home, which included an 8 hour layover in Doha, Qatar. Thus, I wanted a hotel which catered to the Business Traveler.
Disclaimer: I do get upgraded by Marriott Properties, due to my Silver Elite Status. But, I pay for all my rooms. None of the above hotels were comped. This way, I believe I can give an honest, full assessment. I do not “owe” the owners of the properties a good review.
The last two days in Stellenbosch were spent Wine Tasting & Touring. I will cover those in detail in another blog post. I had a wonderful experience on the Garden Route. This was the first proper “Road Trip” I had taken in quite a while. And, it made me want to go back and visit all the other great Lodges, Restaurants, and Properties along the famed Garden Route of South Africa.
Living in Seoul, South Korea, I love spending time walking along the Han River and listening to podcasts. One of the podcasts I enjoy is Alexa Meisler's "Break into Travel Writing" podcast.
One day, about three years ago, I was listening to Episode 82 with Amy Northard, linked here. OH MY GOSH! This show saved my company!
Well, at the very least, the episode, “Bookkeeping for Travel Bloggers with Amy Northard” saved me from a heap of heartache with the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
My husband and I have, for well over a decade, had a brilliant accountant in Virginia who does our taxes. I had really great coaches and business advisers at the Alexandria Small Business Development Center. I even had an attorney, whose specialty is the travel industry, draw-up my legal agreements.
But…I didn’t realize, until listening to this episode, that I had to report to the IRS any and ALL “freebies” I was given for my business. In particular to my company, the travel and tours to Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa as a Fully Hosted International Buyer and the Travel Show Booths I ran on behalf of the Kenyan Embassy in Seoul. All expenses and costs paid for by Tourism Boards or Exhibition Companies are INCOME! That’s right, taxable income.
So, while I love my business and wouldn’t trade the lifestyle it offers for the world, my Familiarization (Fam) Trips are work and they are taxable. But, we won’t tell the Gorillas in Uganda. They think I was there simply for pleasure and to visit their remote jungle. They don’t need to know about the IRS. ;-)
Disclaimer: I am not a financial or legal professional and the above blog is from personal experience and you should seek out a Certified Public Accountant or Legal Professional for your own business.
Where I might be permanently living had I not listened to this podcast….
So excited! Familiarization (Fam) Trip Itinerary
7th – 11th October 2016
NAIROBI, NAIVASHA AND ELDORET, KENYA
- Sports Tourism -