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Anita last won the day on February 14 2014

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  1. Yes one could argue benign dictatorship is often better than this brand of democracy when it comes to management of protected areas.
  2. Yes the article is not written well but it doesn't actually say 100 elephants are killed in DRC or Garamba. Also it is inaccurate that Josias is a former wildlife investigator in ZWA. He is very much a current senior officer of wildlife crime investigations in ZWA and been one since 2015 when he moved from being a ranger. I heard both of them at RGS and spent a very informative dinner. The ivory ban in HK is crucial for many reasons - not least of which is more pieces of ivory are sold in HK than anywhere else in the world. The HK traders are asking for compensation and a government backed compensation would be a death penalty for all remaining elephants as government would become the buyer of last resort. If the HK government feels that a lot of legislators would back compensation, it might withdraw the bill altogether rather than pass it along with compensation. So very critical that the bill is not side tracked and derailed completely because of this demand for compensation. Ivory traders had 15 years before 1990 and 27 years since then to phase off the "legal" supply.
  3. 100 elephants are not poached each day in DRC. 100 elephants are poached each day in Africa. DRC does not have elephants enough for 100 to be poached everyday - a sad reality.
  4. @@jeremie very well said and with great insight. Many great points in your post, for everyone to remember when we turn myopic about places and their transactional/transitory tourism potential to us as tourists and agents and then sometimes even loosely and inaccurately dramatic - there is a big picture APN needs to work towards. I am not on a computer but if you can, should share the links of the annual reports here too as it would greatly help people who read this thread to also get a gist of APN more thoroughly - even if one just reads the Chairman and CEO message and the map showing their imminent plans. Well said again - so important to understand what conservation in these places means!
  5. @@Soukous my knowledge is very limited but like you my confidence is very high :-)
  6. @@Soukous If its just a business yes but no if its not just a business. Tinga's foremost objective is to cater to the expat population in Chad and governmental people and some not too fussy and demanding international visitors ( surprisingly so far it has done a good job of attracting them). It is another story when someone experiences Camp Nomade and tries to recreate that ecosystem in Tinga so even lower dollars than CN can be paid and experience can be maximized. Is that the future for Tinga? No idea, time will tell and I am 100% confident APN will make a plan that works for Zakouma, park management and the ultimate stakeholders- the Chadians and the wildlife. I will not pretend to know what it is. However my personal opinion: At 6500 bed nights and roughly 25% occupancy I think its fine with 3 vehicles or so except during Xmas-NY break, Easter maybe as average occupancy is currently 10-15 people per day? If you have a reputable agent who has honestly booked the vehicle in advance ( last I checked Tinga had bookings on an itemized basis -room, food, game drives, private vehicle), there should be no need to worry. If you drive in as an expat in your own car to Tinga and have not booked vehicles and you manage to come on the Easter weekend ( or these two trips in March with STers- I think there is also a German tour group coinciding in one of those weeks :-D) then maybe those poor expats from NDJ will face a problem. Noone buys 6-8 vehicles at these levels of occupancy to keep them idle for most of the time in a park which has only 20 weeks of tourism. Hypothetically, I will tell you one major concern about getting guides into Tinga who have or have not experienced CN ( maybe even worse if they have) and this did not occur to me till 2-3 days back and I was pondering if one should discuss it or not but in good faith, here goes - Private guides in general break small rules, they are very good with respecting rules which disturb animals but not so much around tourism. The guests will push the guide and the local Tinga guide. These trips are marketed using pictures while staying at Camp Nomade. Technically, one is not allowed to fly camp from Tinga, but lo behold now you have someone who has experienced Camp Nomade and now wants the full Camp Nomade fly camp infrastructure ( which is a full day job for the troops who put up the camp and food). They will sneak in and out of Riguek which is strictly not allowed when Camp Nomade guests are there ( we saw this happen once with a Tinga vehicle even without a freelance guide, now add in his/her efforts to maximizing viewing). This needs to be avoided and unfortunately its easy to say " I am happy with CN guests getting priority in everything" because we know this can be broken when noone is looking :-)
  7. @@ld1 Evey $ counts so anyone who wants to donate to African parks should do so. Its an interesting debate about their website but surely not for this audience who is so much more aware of African Parks through 3-4 years of threads, updates, newsletters being shared here and an audience that spends so much time on trip reports, debates and discussions and lengthy replies- surely they can figure a way to donate and have 10 minutes to do so? By the way I just went to their FB page, clicked the donate button on the far right top corner and it took less than 45 seconds to complete donation through a credit card. Sorry I have no idea who Ricky Gervais is- is it some anti hunting animal rights media personality? African Parks is not looking for a media frenzy by sending wrong messages or distorted truth. I would really encourage you to read the link I provided on the full financial report so you can understand how planing for funding when you manage parks with complete 100% mandate and are responsible for lives of animals and human beings. Their admin expenses are less than 5% of their total sources or uses of funds and admin headcount is less than 1% of total employees- 99% boots on ground, and 100% of your money goes directly to the park- the admin costs are taken care of by interest from an endowment fund. Endowment funds, charity funds, WWF, postal lottery, the EU through its EDF plans etc, HNW individuals, businesses are some of their biggest donors - I think AP would leave these organizations to do the by mail, by media marketing. Their CEO Peter Fearnhead is ex Resource Planning Advisor to the CEO of SANPARKS before co-founding APN. They have 3 boards, full management structure which is very lean in cost and headcount but has a very non-bureaucratic but detailed decision making process. This is not a charity that is trying to merely lobby governments, has over 50% admin costs, has views on hunting etc or trying to emotionally manipulate donors through pictures of dead animals, pictures of hunters with rifles- no maam this is not what they do. This is an organization that does only onground work involving full park management starting from law and order which sets it apart and resource management is key to this process They manage 10 parks with over 6 million hectares- am not sure if its clear here what park management entails as you might have a reduced vision of it based on what you see on social media - a few photos of anti snaring , a classroom full of kids etc- yes these all are important, but the basis to do this successfully is law and order and complete authority to manage. The AP troops on ground are armed, trained by armed forces around the world. They want to reach to doing this for 20 parks by 2020 and hence you can see while every individual dollar is appreciated, they need to plan ahead for major contributions to ensure there is no uncertainty ( again please read the full financial report it will be your best insight and please get into all their newsletters). Their vision is to protect as many different and unique biomes as they can. Again, for anyone genuinely interested, please have a look at the parks they protect and manage and see how different they are. Mandate, Money and Management are key to their success. The ruling government and the law of a country needs to allow full mandate - anything less and they will not take on the role- no half baked thing again because they know what it takes to succeed in park management and interference is not one of those ingredients. Money needs to be part of a planning process. but the final key is Management. For example lets assume they are given the mandate by Kenya to manage Tsavo, and they have the funding, anyone who knows Kenya well, could you say they would be able to Manage this park given local lawlessness and local politics? When ( not if!) you get to Zakouma, spend an hour with Leon to just get a gist of the frusterations that can come in the way of park management. APN believes in full accountability ( again please read their financial report ) and it is important that the funding they get is stable, predictable. They have chosen, largely, not exceptionally, to do this through institutional partners and large donors as that is a strong story to provide when you go to a new country- and ask for mandate. They haven't abandoned any project or park because of lack of funds and again that comes by knowing ahead your sources and uses of funds. All that said, one of the best ways you can make a contribution if you also want to feel you have done something meaningful and that you were important in the whole process is to donate to the rangers families whenever there is some unfortunate loss of lives. We always do that, over and above our regular contributions - we send them an email saying we want you to use this fund for the rangers families and pls reach out a message that people around the world care and this death has not gone wasted. You can also do this on their website. From what I have seen, most threads around news of such loss of lives has not seen many reactions, clicks etc.
  8. @@ld1 noone knows the actual format. I think all that is known is from what the agents and guides have written here that there is a list of maybe 10 guides ( top ones and its a different debate on differences between guides and why 10 of one kind is better than 100 of anyone and everyone so lets have that debate in a separate thread free of African parks) and they will like to attract more guests who can share in their conservation vision and ability to take on and manage more parks. That might come in the form of a price or anything- the thing is we dont know! The thread started with @@optig wanting to know more about APN and has meandered since then! While Tony Mckeith is a good guide and very well known, I dont know why his first post here on Safari Talk was about this new structure and I don't know if he gave actual facts - that the camp is only for investors-I think thats what made you think everyone else is excluded. I dont think this is the case but I will be first to admit that we are all guessing here to some extent. Your concerns are valid and shows your passion. However I think we should all learn to trust organizations that do this kind of unprecedented work and realise that in a hypothetical world everything would be perfect- they would have a battalion of vehicles, reverse osmosis plants for water, camps for every demand and size- in reality on ground conservation is about making choices based on what you have and prioritizing. Atleast we all agree that the priority for all of us is to know that Zakouma can exist like this 10 years from now. Or that we could finally resolve the poaching and loss of lives in Garamba. How Camp Nomade is sold, is important to wildlife enthusiasts, but a little less important in the grander scheme of things. FYI- Tinga supports a free camp called Camp Salamat which is purely for local Chadians who dont pay anything- its a wonderful initiative and sees if I am not mistaken around 1400 local Chadians a year into the park. Maybe that is more of a priority with the funding they have, then to invest money into vehicles for handful of international guests who will pay a price that is neither here nor there from Zakouma's point of view and hence they want to balance the needs of international audience in the middle bracket ( a lot of these people tend to demand for the best experience at a very cheap price) with their vision? Again I am rambling too, I dont know, but like I said a lot of this is a separate discussion to be had, not specific to African Parks.
  9. Here is the trip report- 4 nights in Tinga camp and 2 nights fly camping:-) I'll ask Paolo to share a wonderful message he received from a couple who stayed for 7 nights in Tinga this year while we were in Camp Nomade and were inspired after this TR. They didnt have a private guide, they didnt have a sense of entitlement- just utter wonder-I still remember that girl's face when she was describing her first sighting of a roan-her face had lit up!. Wherever you go in Zakouma, you will be bowled over. Here is the link for the annual reports and financial reports And Zakouma monthlyfor April- just one to get you started!!! That rain they describe in the April one was us- our tents in CN completely collapsed like the mess tent, we stayed in the store-van for 1 hour or so- it was wonderful. Leon the Park Director came with a truck full of park rangers to put back CN and in 1 day everything was back to normal!!
  10. AmyT I will send you some monthly reports and annual reports ;-) as long as you read all of them! There is a lot about them and @@Paolo has described them in detail in his TR from 2014 on Zakouma. Here is their link- the About Us and Our Story will give a very good idea. One last thing to think on ( and I'll shut up) We had the fortune of hosting Peter their CEO in Hong Kong in Oct 2015 for an Royal Geographic Society conference and an evening to meet people( anyone who thinks there are other sources of potential donors knocking at the door and dangles these promises, doesn't know how not easy it is on ground actually doing it and we speak from experience- AP has some very strong people backing them and they have the soundest organization for parks management in all of Africa but there is a difference between 'potential donors' -which anyone can allude to and 'actual donors' . I think if a non accredited guide came with an actual confirmed donor, there would always be space but again am guessing.......
  11. @@ld1 AP is not looking at reaching their goals quickly. The current model of Camp Nomade -they are not reaching their goal at all. As I mentioned and Paolo added - YTD ( If you include Dec2016-Apr 2017) , Tinga made revenues of USD 180K and CN USD 378K ( source monthly reports). So with Camp Nomade being 5 times more expensive, net revenues were only double? CN is now shut for rest of the year till Dec- It has 16 weeks every year. Only about 80-90 people visited CN in this season Dec 2016 -Apr 2017 and 15-20% of them were guides and fam trips. Maybe only 5% or less were donors. The current format meant you could only come into NDJ on a Sunday and only book for exactly 7 days ( or multiples of that) with no flexibility. The current format meant that you had to travel with an accredited guide and have a minimum of 6 guests per week and a maximum of 8. Most guides sold the minimum except the very top ones who really understood the conservation message and had that clientele to come with 8 guests. . A lot of guides split the week between two guides. Guides blocked spaces 18 months plus in advance without having sold anything and then proceeded to down sell. When donors wanted to come in, all they had was a December slot. On top of all this Camp Nomade hosted more than 5-7 weeks of fam trips for these guides in total since 2015. The only thing the guides had to pay was their flight tickets and part of the charter-and they got 5 nights of an incredible experience -even if they did not bring back any guests. They didn't have to make any investment. The whole CN experience from the camp to the food to the game drives to the fly camping was free. As I had mentioned earlier it was always supposed to be capped at 10-12 guides but then the interest began, every guide promises to get guests but none had the liability to do so. This is not investment in the future of a park so precariously placed in central Africa in Chad with the worlds worst neighbors and a normalcy for only 5 years or so. If after all this and after 3 years of planning and investing, all the park made net of expenses is a mere USD 70K in one full year out of Camp Nomade( a very educated guess) what would you do as APN? The total revenue of USD 378K can be achieved by just 3-4 right donors without that much of cost of servicing 80 people associated with it. Akagera as a park makes USD 1.2 Million for them in a year ( 2015- Annual reports) because it is in a proper safari country- but just about that much and pre-expense. The most challenging parks have an expense of USD 3-5 Million per park. Isnt it ironic that most people on this forum thought that paying USD 10-13.5K per person for 1 week in Camp Nomade including all charters etc was too expensive and there were a lot of comments on that but it didn't lead to any positive commercial impact for APN and now that they want to offer a better Tinga at more affordable price and restrict Camp Nomade to investors/donors/higher priced, we are all criticizing that as well??? I dont know why I am mentioning all this, because if I know AP, they are not commercial at all. However it is frustrating when everyone seems to now have a claim for Zakouma or Camp Nomade but in terms of real investment -nada. I completely understand how you feel - going to a place as lovely as Zakouma with your favorite guide is a great dream. For long I held the belief that spreading the news about Zakouma and getting more and more guides involved was the right thing. In 2015 we took a guide and paid for his 100% of fam trip as well as to guide us who had no other reason or connection of being in the AP list. I know I wanted to get Doug there as back as 2014 when I asked AP to include him in the invite list for 2015 fam trips. Unfortunately he had trips planned and he could not come. I then proceeded to arrange as early as June 2015 a trip for Jan 2017 (had to cancel this trip due to work and finances) where I brought him as a guest-guide. That would have not given him accredition so then we asked him to speak directly and halffunded the fam trip. And I am very happy at a personal level to have done that beause it is really amazing to see the joy of someone experiencing Zakouma for the first time and Doug is a great guide. So we have been there- where we thought more guides =more tourists = more revenues for Zakouma. 100% of profit goes back into the park so every USD you give to APN for Zakouma- as a tourist or as a donor goes into Zakouma directly. But when you realise the model is not working you have to do something. I think it is unfair to say that they decided anything on your behalf- it is their mandate and their obligation to protect the park and to provide an economic model for it that sustains. The current Camp Nomade format is not sustainable. Does that mean the new one will be? No maybe not, but it wont definitely be worse than current one. I am sorry you feel that you were let down but that is not the case at all. Your analogy of the airlines is incorrect. Because APN is firmly behind all of 2018 Camp Nomade commitments and like always provides the best support onground for that - hosted off the plane by the park manager, free access to his verandah for the bulls the most amazing fly camping experience you can imagine, a quality of food and hospitality that you have not seen anywhere -not even in the USD3000 per person camp. Only they haven't priced themselves at USD 3000 yet. I don't want to see them lose money on Camp Nomade and I don't like seeing so much wonderful spirit and hospitality being taken for granted. The correct analogy would have been if Cathay announced, 2 years in advance (and before anyone booked that far in advance), that they would fly one particular route with only the first class and economy and that they would invest a bit more in the economy. But no business class. In the meanwhile for 2 years they will fully back all their commitments, even if it actually delays their plans. That is the real analogy.
  12. @@optig gentle teasing here only mate but have you by any chance created a new compound of Tony Busanga +African Parks = Tony Parks?? Just kidding. I think this thread merits a few more details provided on a number of points raised which will do from home later on.
  13. Still a lot more than 2011-2015 when it was already a conservation success. People are flighty- they will get elsewhere, I doubt any loss for Zakouma but lets see. I am definitely very happy for Zakouma and Tinga's bednights volumes have really taken off ( will be happy to put the analysis here for you from the monthly reports-you will be very pleasantly surprised given conservation success is equal to visitors) so net net more visitors to Zakouma, more money for conservation- win-win!!! Completely 100% inaccurate that there is no guarantee when you can go out- Tinga guests go out the same manner on game drives. They are restricted to not be in Riguek if camp nomade guests are there but with more flexible booking for Camp Nomade it might actually improve. At a personal level, I don't want to see Tinga vehicles at Riguek when I am there, but that part is co-ordinated to ensure it works pretty well most of the times. Tinga guests experienced the bulls at Leon's house exactly the way we did- once they reached just before us, and we gave them the right of the way. Tinga guests can also drive anywhere in the park. From the little I know I thought they are not allowed to fly camp but I guess that might have changed. We fly camped in 4 different places in 12 nights in Zakouma and 5 different places in total 8 nights of fly camping in 22 nights in 2 visits -there is absolutely no dearth of sites you can camp!!! Having experienced Camp Nomade and Zakouma for 22 and 27 nights respectively between me and Paolo, we would still encourage people to go to Tinga instead of not going at all. I also think if AP is restricting access to Camp Nomade and encouraging guides to use Tinga, they would provide a far better support to the experience there now in time. Lets be positive :-))) 48-50 odd beds in Tinga, 8 beds in Camp Nomade ( usually only 6 used) for a total of max lets say 20 weeks - In total 7840 bed nights -assuming an average of 5-6 days per visit tats roughly 1500 visitors in a 3000 sq km park, which is anyway the maximum capacity- we might be at risk of exaggerating the loss of visitors here.
  14. I think you are confusing Doug's Feb trip to camp Nomade with the two trips in March to Tinga you would have been too harsh on yourself if you arranged that trip to Tinga and then mentioned no decent operator to go there. Also super happy you agree with everything! Because then you would admit that APN deserves only the kindest of words from the guides they have so generously shared Zakouma :-)))))
  15. Hi @@Tony Busanga Your post is definitely valid as a one sided point of view, but having been a strong supporter of AP and hopefully a respectable donor ( though by no means anywhere close to their top donors), I am going to point out the fallacies in your argument and that it is completely out of point and merit. You are a very respectable guide and so I hope you do not take this personally, but the argument needs to be made here. I will try to do it in a structured manner so hopefully we all can learn ;-) Actually they don't do just "some great work." No. A lot of NGOs do some great work. African Parks does bloody marvelous, unimaginable, top of the line work. They are completely unique in the fact that not a single NGO can come close to them in terms of what they manage and how they manage- 800 armed troops on ground in Africa ( 2nd to none in terms of a conservation force), complete buy in of the governments for full autonomy in park management, unfathomable scale of operations ( over 10 million hectares and counting - aim to be at 20 parks by 2020 and if I am not mistaken doubling coverage in another 5-7 years). They protect unique and differing biomes - this itself is a very unique part of their strategy and sets them apart. I know Zakouma is wonderful. Liuwa is wonderful. But for the average tourist Garamba is not. Chinko is not. These are severally dangerous parks to operate in. AP also manages these parks. I will leave it to you to imagine the scale of funding needed and the scale of African Park's vision and professionalism. I really hope you didn't mean this. Doug Macdonald has two trips there next year to Tinga ( this old government camp) and at least 3 Safaritalkers are going with him. I have been on safari with Doug 4 times and he is not just decent but also a bloody good guide. While I do not agree with the model personally of Camp Nomade guides using Tinga I think I can guess why it fits with AP's strategy and for me that is enough . The reason this point is important, Tony, is because AP does want visitors to increase to Tinga and they do not at all want to clamp down- infact they want enthusiastic wildlife guests to be able to come to Zakouma and not be burdened with high costs. Hence Doug's very affordable trip there. I would counter argue that with a respectable guide the experience in Tinga can be quite exceptional. However, AP also wants Zakouma to be able to support itself and that will not come from Tinga's revenues or the measly net income left after expenses of Camp Nomade. That will come from motivated donors who see Zakouma and buy into the conservation story and are motivated enough to protect a Garamba or a Chinko. By criticizing Tinga, in this manner, I think you do AP a little disservice. I know a top guide who is staying this year in Matamanene and probably getting a donor with him. So one could do that in Tinga too, you know and make it count. A lot of donors go to some very basic camps as well. Its a fantastic park isn't it? Now imagine that it does not exist. That the 502 elephants there ( up 95 since African Parks took over), do not exist, because hey the poachers ran through 3000 of them in 4 years from 2007 to 2011 so what is a few hundred. Did you like the birding there? The masses of pelicans and thousands of all kinds of birds (each)? Now imagine that the water system was completely fished out, nomads and villagers freely entered the park with cattle and poached for bush meat (not difficult to imagine at all- is happening all over Kenya a mere 10 hour flight away). Every time any one of us takes this wonderful oasis in the middle of nowhere as granted, or wonders how the hell does this oasis exist "here", it needs to be reminded that natural ecosystems on their own cannot thrive in today's world. My point is this. Most travelers on most internet forums react in this manner "shucks whats going to happen to me, how am I going to visit this place". This is not important. If you look at the numbers APN publishes in their monthly newsletter, Camp Nomade's total revenue this year ( and its closed now for the whole season - so really 4.5 months of season in a year?!) was approx and a mere USD 390K. While I dont have the Math from there on, subtracting the camp employees' and other expenses, hosting the guides, guides educational for free , all the great food that no stone is left unturned to provide, the maintenance of the camp, the 200 water bottles a day, and so on and forth, doesnt leave much more than a mere 15-20% of this money as final income to be invested in the park and into community/infrastructure. The collective net income of all the guides this year was probably 8-10 times of this 15-20% of USD 390K( you can approximate this by running simple Maths- add up the prices of various tours and subtract camp revenue!!) This is definitely not the right model. But the right guides are essential for the Park and they will always come at a premium. So what option does one have? I don't know. My educated or not so educated guess says a choice of 2 options- 1.) Have in camp guides -Mahamat is excellent now, and free lance guides can be kept for a season. I personally would love this - I would still pay as much as getting the best guide in there but be happier that all my money is now going to APN. But I am a weird exception and 2 years back I did not have the confidence to go in there without a private guide from outside. Most people who would go to a 1000 USD pppn camp in the middle of Chad, would want some security around a known guide. Most people who would donate 50-100s of thousands of dollars would be known to a select handful of guides. So this option would again limit what Zakouma can earn in a very short season. 2.) Extend Camp Nomade to only select guides who come in with serious donors. When you take everything into account, 2.) is the only right choice. As I said, for all of us Zakouma cannot be taken for granted. By the way as far as I remember, it was always intended to be a few select guides and then basically the "expression of interest" from a number of guides kind of ran over. In 2014, not one operator was willing to take the risk of running Camp Nomade. The camp tents etc itself is funded out of donor money so not too illogical that donors are given preference. If it hadn't been for AP and Michael Lorentz (who incidentally invested his own money and time to do the recce and start this whole Zakouma craze), we wouldn't have had a Camp Nomade to visit. Incidentally that 2014 trip was based out of Tinga with mosquito net fly tents for camping. It is still the most loved and followed account of a Zakouma experience. Paolo and I try to be as robust donors as possible But to highlight that the kind of donors needed to get interested in this park, we probably don't make the cut ( infact I am sure of it). But we have no sense of right or arrogance that we have a right to this park. Safari goers need to change this mentality of all rights and no obligations. I remember one forum member here actually asked if he could get a concession because he was European and the EU is a big funder. I have lost track of countless people who have tried to get there to lead groups to just get the experience themselves or tourists who have wanted the cheapest price to get the top most experience. This is not right. If we are really concerned with these areas surviving, we need to take a step back. There are plenty of wildlife areas that are accessible to numbers and numbers of people- there is no dearth of seeing massive crowds of wildlife enthusiasts in many national parks. I don't know what the final model is here at all and it is possible that I would not be able to get back to Zakouma in the manner I would choose to. But given where the park is, the logistics to arrange, the exceptional treatment and luxury expected, I see nothing wrong with this model at all. PS- All of this is my and Paolo's own opinion and not APNs. I will just end off with this picture of an elephant calf- a symbol of the turnaround AP has brought into this park- also if we are not careful a symbol of something we take hopelessly for granted in this world.

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