Robin Pope Safaris
Supporting Africa Series
Robin Pope Safaris was started in 1986, since its inception it has delivered authentic safaris with a focus on walking and wilderness experiences, developing into one of the best walking safari operators in Africa with great accommodation to match. Robin Pope Safaris now has a family of properties that offer wonderful escape in Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
A key part of what makes them so good at what they do is being in tune with their surroundings, not only the wildlife but also the people. In a recent statement they said the following on what responsible tourism means to them.
Operating lodges and camps in protected ecosystems in Africa alongside local indigenous communities and wildlife comes with a great deal of responsibility.
Robin Pope Safaris is committed to responsible tourism. We conduct our business in a manner that benefits the environment and wildlife conservation, the people who work for us, and our neighbouring communities. In this way our tourism operations, and the presence of our guests, has the capacity to protect natural wildlife areas, alleviate poverty through good employment practices and contribute positively to the local community.
Having a sense of responsibility and wanting to provide a positive legacy is something that we love to see and is a vital part of our business, we only work with operators that share our passion for not just delivering incredible experiences but that use their position to do good.
It is important to remember that being able to travel to far flung and amazing destinations is a privilege and that we are able to use this privilege to benefit others… yes there are carbon implications of air travel but these can be mitigated and we are seeing first hand now the impact that a lack of tourism has on millions of individuals, on habitat and on wildlife.
At the core of Robin Pope Safaris beliefs is the empowerment and development of local communities for whom wildlife has not always been a consideration. To create buy in from these communities they must first perceive that there is some value in protecting the wildlife and the wild spaces, otherwise they will only contemplate the inconvenience of crop raiding elephants and dangerous predators.
Educating people on the benefits of having a thriving tourism industry which is reliant on wildlife and wild space is vital, allowing members of the community to see that there are employment opportunities for them or their children, a career in guiding or lodge work or indeed the growing of vegetables to be sold to tourism organisations for guest and staff food. These are all possible positive outcomes that will improve quality of life that would not exist without well run and conscientious safari operators.
Many people that live on the borders of the national parks have in fact never been on a game drive or been told stories of symbiotic relationships in the wild or heard the incredible explanations of how ecosystems support themselves, giving this chance by taking villagers during the off season helps them to see why people visit and to gain an understanding of the purpose of protecting their neighbouring beasts.
Robin Pope Safaris has an incredible way of uplifting the people that they believe they have a responsibility to help… their trade not aid approach means that the bulk of the fresh produce used at our properties in Zambia, Malawi & Zimbabwe is bought from the local communities rather than being road transferred in from stores in the bigger cities. This is not only a great way of providing an income to many more people than those that are directly employed by the property but it also reduces the carbon footprint of their operations.
Having an engaged local population leads to excellent employment opportunities and staff that are invested in tourism as a way of improving living standards within the community, this creates a personal investment in the wellbeing of the wildlife.
Robin Pope Safaris are an advocate for paying their staff fair wages that enable a good standard of living, they encourage their staff to open bank accounts and to put money aside as savings and for medical insurance.
Further encouraging staff through training and promoting staff that excel in their roles, offering a path to progress and opportunities to participate in university and college courses. An example of this is the Zambia operations manager who has been taking an international MBA at the University of Kent.
African Parks Network’s reintroduction projects in Majete, Malawi; Since 2003 African Parks Network and the Malawi government have made strides in combatting poaching and reducing the impact of these activities enough to start reintroducing iconic species including lion, leopard and black rhino. Robin Pope Safaris were involved in the restocking of Majete Wildlife Reserve, which resulted it in being Malawi’s first protected area to return to a big 5 reserve. Robin Pope Safaris was also were involved in the cheetah reintroduction in Liwonde National Park. This was a historic moment as there had been no cheetah seen in Malawi in over 100 years!
Zambian Carnivore Programme have identified that Eastern Zambia may be home to one of the more sizeable wild dog populations in Africa today, specifically the Luangwa Valley is home to the countries second largest wild dog population as well as the largest lion population and one of the largest leopard populations in Africa. Robin Pope Safaris not only helps to fund the Zambian Carnivore Programme but also houses their research camp on its land at Nkwali Camp.
Through partnering with operators on the ground that develop their companies sustainably, not only for wildlife but also for the wilderness areas and the people that call them home I believe that tourism can be an ultimately positive venture on all fronts.
This means that an area is not overcrowded with properties and that businesses do not grow to such a vast size that they become more part of the problem than the solution, while they may produce large profits and some of this is returned to the community these are also then used to build more camps which in turn creates incredibly busy areas having a negative impact on wildlife and on the habitat.
Robin Pope Safaris are a fantastic example of a company that has grown over a long period of time, always keeping in mind the local communities and the wild spaces that they wish to conserve.
Through careful consideration and a process of tailor making your holiday it is possible to match almost any experience and taste with a partner operator that has this approach.