optig

Where is African parks planning to upgrade next?

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Like many of my fellow Safaritalkers, I'm very impressed with African Parks. I'll be visiting Zakouma and Liwonde next year and of course I'd like to visit Akagera, Liuwa Plain, Bangweulu Wetlands, and possibly Odzala,Caramba, and the Chinoko Area. I know that African parks is also creating two other protection areas Ennedi in Chad and Gambella in Ethiopia. Apparently, they may be going into Buffalo Springs,Shaba National Reserve and three major hunting concessions in Tanzania: Burigi, Biharamuto, and KImisi which I think is very encouraging. Can anyone here tell me where else African Parks is planning to go in the future? I called their offices in both Johannesburg and Amsterdam and they were quite secretive. African Parks has been an inspiration to all of us.

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I have to agree African parks do some great work on the ground in these wonderful wildlife areas. I have been to Zakouma and like everyone else who has been there i was knocked out by the sublime beauty of the place and the extraordinary wildlife. Has to be one of my all time favourites. It has been great to tell others about Zakouma and spread the word. So I and many others in the safari industry were sad to see that AP have decided to further minimise the amount of visitors who will be able to visit Zakouma by only allowing a very few of the most top end operators to bring only guests who might go on to invest in AP to assist their conservation efforts in that area. Don't confuse this with the policy they already have of only allowing guides who have visited to bring guests (which is a great idea anywhere). Now you can either go and stay in an old govt camp in Zakouma ( if any descent operator will take you there ) or likely pay a great deal. I equate visitor numbers and publicity to conservation success and although I would not pretend to be an expert on APs reasons it is hard not to think it is crying shame that Zakouma will again move away from the grasp of a vast number of real wildlife enthusiast safari goers, and here I mean international guests, not back packers of even budget travellers. Bangweulu's Shoebill Camp is currently being converted to a Top End camp as described by AP which will mean fewer visitors in favour of increased revenue , again I guess AP have done sums from a business point of view with no consideration for visitor numbers which surely the point. Liuwa, what a fantastic place, but yet another top end camp in place of Matamanene. The Akagera Rwanda Rhino re introduction is a brilliant example of AP at its conservation best, I do hope the inevitable reduction in visitor numbers brought about by the Rwandan govt decision to put up Gorilla Permits up to $1500 per trek does not mean the publicity and possible increase in visitor numbers is not nullified by this trend of charging top $ .

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Posted (edited)

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 ;-)

 

I have to agree African parks do some great work on the ground in these wonderful wildlife areas.

 

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.

 

Now you can either go and stay in an old govt camp in Zakouma ( if any descent operator will take you there )

 

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.

 

but yet another top end camp in place of Matamanene.

 

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.

 

have been to Zakouma and like everyone else who has been there i was knocked out by the sublime beauty of the place and the extraordinary wildlife. Has to be one of my all time favourites.

 

 

 

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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Edited by Anita
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Posted (edited)

Wow thats a long reply ! I am pretty well up to speed on everything you mention. Doug's safari next year 2018 is actually my safari, and we have given Doug three spaces so he can take his guests. The safari is based at Camp Nomade.

Edited by Tony Busanga
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Wow thats a long reply ! I am pretty well up to speed on everything you mention. Doug's safari next year is actually my safari, and we have given Doug three spaces so he can take his guests.

 

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 :-)))))

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No we would not use Tinga for guest who want to truly experience Zakouma as we have been lucky enough to do . Here's a quote from another very reputable guide . Not my words...

 

"Tinga, they will keep the few vehicles they have and then you will be allocated game drive slots and activities depending on whose in camp etc, so if you go there there will be no guarantees as to when you could go out, management will work out for each day."

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Guess we will have to see exactly how it pans out . My only point is it such a shame that fewer people will get to visit Zakouma.

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Posted (edited)

Guess we will have to see exactly how it pans out . My only point is it such a shame that fewer people will get to visit Zakouma.

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!!!

 

"Tinga, they will keep the few vehicles they have and then you will be allocated game drive slots and activities depending on whose in camp etc, so if you go there there will be no guarantees as to when you could go out, management will work out for each day."

 

 

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.

Edited by Anita
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Posted (edited)

@@tony Busaga be happy to get every year enough guests how can affort your luxury serves. Could you imagine that there are people around the world how would realy like to see Zakouma on times in there live but looking for an affordable price. I don't talk about backpacking. Maybe you can't imagin.

 

We had 6 wonderful nights in Liuwa in 2012 without a top end lodge. Basic camping in the community camps. We took a ranger from African Parks with us. This guy uses to work with Herbert Brauer for "The last Lioness". He was as fantastic as every top end Guide could be. Maybe nowadays with using for your exclusive rich guests the new top end lodge you would be for sure very afraid to see us on your game drive. Basic Camping means we look sometimes a bit dirty. We don't take care about but we loved this place as much as you guest love it.

Edited by Botswanadreams
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Posted (edited)

 

"Tinga, they will keep the few vehicles they have and then you will be allocated game drive slots and activities depending on whose in camp etc, so if you go there there will be no guarantees as to when you could go out, management will work out for each day."

@@Tony Busanga

 

In the past three years, I have spent roughly one week at Tinga and three weeks at Camp Nomade, so I guess I might have an opinion on this.

 

I think the statement quoted above may be accurate only in certain circumstances - for sure if you are an expat driving from N'Djamena (there are a lot more of them these days, since the US and French Embassies have removed the prohibition to travel to Zakouma by road) you are at mercy of what is available, but I believe this would not be the case in an organized trip. My experience at Tinga in 2014 did not incur any such limitation, but again it might not be representative, since we were for the most part guests of AP at a time when there was virtually no tourism in the park.

 

It is plainly obvious that Tinga and Camp Nomade are totally different products, in terms of experience, location, level of service (as it has been acutely observed by a friend, Zakouma has the unique feature of being the park where you can have both the best - at Camp Nomade - and the worst - at Tinga - safari camp food in Africa), flexibility etc...

 

But, for the sake of argument, one may argue that the guides now shortlisted to conduct "Camp Nomade trips" from 2019 onwards (if they are those I think) are amongst the very top names in the guiding fraternity, and offer a different "product" and experience from the other - albeit very good in all respects - guides accredited at the moment.

 

Based on the current situation, personally I would not stay inTinga, but I am also unsure of the extent Camp Nomade has worked for AP and Zakouma as it stands now.

 

In 2017, Tinga has received 458 visitors as of April 30, and generated roughly 150k USD of revenues for the park. Camp Nomade, during the same period, has received 87 visitors and generated roughly 390k USD of revenues for the park. Whilst the contribution by Tinga visitors is indeed minimal, also the one by guests at Camp Nomade, as @@Anita points out, is less than it appears, once taken into account all expenditures etc...

 

I have known for quite a while that AP was not entirely happy with Camp Nomade, since - when it was conceived - it was hoped it would have had a greater conversion of guests becoming donors. This has not happened for a number of reasons, including the "scheduled" weekly departures, that have de facto prevented existing or potential donors to visit.

 

It is just logical that, in order to address this, the system needed to be overhauled, and equally logic the restriction to those guides who, being at the very top of their profession, have access to larger pools of donors or potential donors.

 

The reality is that - with the revenue figures mentioned above - tourism is quite secondary, and a few serious donors will go a long way further to support Zakouma than 30 or 50 more guests at Camp Nomade.

 

Contrary to most people's conviction, I think that in many cases tourism and conservation are at odds with each other, and only in certain, virtuous instances, they overlap. Having said that, tourism in Zakouma is necessary for many reasons - for giving visibility to the Park, for creating more employment in the surrounding communities, because Zakouma has become such a source of pride for Chad and the local people. Much more for these factors than for its financial contribution.

 

What will happen in the future tourism-wise? I do not really know, but I would guess that Tinga might be further upgraded to become a decent 3- star lodge, comfortably accommodating regular visitors, and that Camp Nomade (or whatever it will be) will be used to leverage donors, hopefully making a difference not only for Zakouma, but also for other parks in the AP portfolio that are much more difficult to "sell".

 

( All this hoping that Chad remains the stable and safe country it is now)

Edited by Paolo
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This is a really interesting conversation and I don't doubt the merits on all sides. Clearly APN do some truly amazing and inspirational work and their need to profile potential donors and make the offerings unique to attract as much income as possible is no different to a lot of Charities and NGOs the world over. I don't mind not being able to afford to go somewhere, indeed I make value judgements like that all the time. Sometimes I am not happy about it and so I might save for years and years to go somewhere. Am I happy to have that decision made for me based on what an organisation thinks my bank balance/assets/interests are? No, I actually think I am uncomfortable with that. if APN close Camp Nomade to anyone other than their invited guest list. High rollers that might, or might not, come through for them because that meets their conservation goals quicker then it is absolutely their right to do so. I do however feel uncomfortable that people are segmented, judged and granted or denied access to a place based on their economic potential or indeed any other attribute.

 

We have a thing called the postcode lottery in the U.K. I joined it, giving my £10 per month alongside thousands of other households. I joined because one day a leaflet dropped through my letter box telling me what great things they support and organisation of the month was APN, so I joined it. No doubt the contribution to APN from the postcode lottery is still insignificant when balanced against a major donor. Still it does make me feel a little like my money isn't good enough, I am not sure why, it just does.

 

It's a shame that APN didn't have the strategy in place from the beginning, excluding people now because they don't have enough donor potential when in the past as long as you could pay the price you could go just feels wrong. A bit like women not being allowed to join a golf club, or getting bumped off a flight and finding out it's because some VIP wants seats for their entourage. What APN is doing is still one set of people making a judgement about another set of people. The ends don't always justify the means, of course for some they do in this case. What a shame, I really was going to save for the next three years to get to Camp Nomade in fact I'd mentioned to Doug that I'd like to have my name on a list if the opportunity to do so again in 2020 happens. I'm off to Zim again with Doug this year and I'd rather have done nothing for three years and gone to Camp Nomade. It would seem a futile gesture to do so now. My names not down, so I'm not getting in :-(

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@@ld1

 

Two things:

 

1) You mentioned "not being able to access a place". This is incorrect, since you will still be able to visit Zakouma by staying at Tinga. It would be a bit like saying that one is not able to visit London because they cannot afford the Savoy or the Dorchester

 

2) I doubt that only people in certain "invite list" will be able to access the new Camp Nomade. It will be just fewer operators selling it, at an higher price. So it would be the same as now - if you can pay for it, you will be able to go. Only the distribution channel will be different and more focussed.

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That's good to hear @@Paolo. I'll keep saving 😉

 

Our replies crossed so I hadn't seen yours as I was posting.

 

My reply wasn't very clear, when I said place I was referring to Camp Nomade as a place as opposed to Zakouma as a place. I really would be disappointed to make the not inconsiderable investment in getting to Zakouma and know I could not have the best experience on offer in terms of privacy and guiding, just because I didn't fit a donor profile. it's good to hear that might not be the case after all.

 

Your point about schedule departures was interesting. If AP want to attract the super-rich conservation enthusiast then flexibility is absolutely key. These people will be used to getting what they want, when they want and that's by no means a criticism more an observation. It's intriguing that the donor strategy remains tied to a handful of high-end operators on the assumption that this is the best strategy for attracting high value donors. Presumably high value donors have been generated more regularly from these operators and that seems a fair enough to concentrate here.

 

Not knowing anything about the AP fund raising strategy I have just had a poke around the AP website and it's pretty poor in terms of encouraging donor engagement. AP are clearly in this for the long game and I imagine there is much more they could do to cultivate donors from small donations, through to medium and onwards ending up with a sizeable gift for those donors who do well in life and end up giving substantial amounts. The. the final grand gesture of a great legacy gift/endowment. AP are surely a perfect cause for this kind of long term donor cultivation.

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@ld1 I don’t want to jump into the main discussion but since you mention donations, you may have noticed (but others might not) that AP have come to an arrangement with Tusk Trust, so that UK donors can now Gift Aid their donations to AP via Tusk, previously Gift Aid wasn’t an option. Charlie Mayhew who runs tusk was at Rian Labuschagne’s lecture in London, so I’m not surprised that Tusk and AP have hooked up. Well I say hooked up, they haven’t seriously done so, I’ve just looked at the Tusk website and nothing comes up when I search for African Parks, so they are clearly not at present directly supporting any of AP’s parks. This may of course change as I would think Tusk and AP are a good fit, whatever the case the arrangement they do have with Tusk should perhaps make Brits more inclined to donate. I would have thought there ought to be a way that they could make it even easier still, if you want people to donate you need to make it as quick and easy as possible.

 

Donating from the UK:

 

African Parks has an arrangement in place with Tusk Trust, who facilitate us in claiming an additional 25% Gift Aid from the UK government.

 

 

 

OTHER WAYS TO DONATE TO AFRICAN PARKS

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Posted (edited)

Can we back up and describe what African Parks is/are and what they comprise? Not all of us are well-versed. Thanks!

Edited by AmyT

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Posted (edited)

I would like to pop into this discussion briefly since it is my company, Chalo Africa, that is running the two 2018 March safaris to Zakouma (Tinga) with Doug.

 

While we are perfectly okay with the restrictions on our guests in 2018 (Camp Nomade gets first preference for everything) we are not happy with some of the proposed restrictions on Tinga starting in 2019.

 

For instance, if I understand it correctly, although Tinga is being refurbished to attract larger numbers of guests, there appear to be no plans as of now to add additional vehicles to the camp. I hope this is not so. Because if it is, then the Tinga guests will be restricted to certain time-slots to make sure everyone gets an outing and if you are photo enthusiast who gets a mid-morning slot in March or April, you are not going to be a happy Tinga guest. I can definitely tell you that we will not plan any trip that may end up with disgruntled guests and unhappy guides. The whole point of visiting Zakouma is to have the freedom to explore a beautiful and unusual destination, and if we don't have vehicles to do this, then we have nothing. The park is certainly large enough to accommodate another 5-6 vehicles and the guides can coordinate so that CN guests are not disturbed and still left feeling privileged.

 

So IMO, this is a perfectly valid point raised by @@Tony Busanga and I hope the park re-considers its vehicle policy for 2019 onwards. I think AP could easily raise Tinga prices for its non-resident visitors (essentially following the same model as elsewhere in Africa) and use some of its funds to purchase some more vehicles for Tinga so that all camp visitors have access to at least 1 seat in their vehicles for the morning and evening drives. Or maybe the President will be kind enough to donate some more confiscated vehicles :)

 

I also think that this new policy does not encourage collegiality within the guiding fraternity. For certain guides who have invested considerable time and effort in learning about and in promoting Zakouma, it is not nice to be placed on a so-called B list, even if this is the financially sound thing for AP to do. For one, there are emerging areas of the world with new donor potential that could be very beneficial to AP in the long run. The A list guides likely do not have access to ALL big donors everywhere in the world. So whilst I can still wrap my head around Camp Nomade becoming a "donor camp" in the future, IMO any accredited guide who has access to these types of 'potential' donors should be able to bring in their guests to CN.

 

Perhaps AP needs to publish a list of criteria and guidelines for the guides - A List if you fulfill them, B list if you don't. But people need to know what it takes to get on that A list in order to feel good about promoting visitors to the park - and it should not give them the feeling that the A-List is a 'closed shop'.

 

I sincerely hope that AP will give more thought to how it rolls out the new proposals.

Edited by Sangeeta
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Posted (edited)

hello @@optig - if you go on to the AP website and subscribe to their newsletter, you will get quite a lot of info on happenings and new developments. Their annual report is also coming out in the next week - if you would like me to forward it to you, drop me an email on africaml@iafrica.com.

Edited by Michael Lorentz
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@TonyParks I have to say that I do understand while Chinoko may have considerable potential it's still a long way from becoming a viable tourist destination. I was fortunate to meet Kes Hillman Smith who is a highly respected researcher who spent years working in Garamba National park so I know that it is still too dangerous to visit.

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@TonyParks I have to say that I do understand while Chinoko may have considerable potential it's still a long way from becoming a viable tourist destination. I was fortunate to meet Kes Hillman Smith who is a highly respected researcher who spent years working in Garamba National park so I know that it is still too dangerous to visit.

@@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.

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Posted (edited)

Sometimes I am not happy about it and so I might save for years and years to go somewhere. Am I happy to have that decision made for me based on what an organisation thinks my bank balance/assets/interests are? No, I actually think I am uncomfortable with that. if APN close Camp Nomade to anyone other than their invited guest list. High rollers that might, or might not, come through for them because that meets their conservation goals quicker then it is absolutely their right to do so. I do however feel uncomfortable that people are segmented, judged and granted or denied access to a place based on their economic potential or indeed any other attribute.

 

@@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.

Edited by Anita
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Posted (edited)

Can we back up and describe what African Parks is/are and what they comprise? Not all of us are well-versed. Thanks!

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.

 

https://www.african-parks.org/about-us/landing

 

 

 

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.......

Edited by Anita
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@@Anita ... thank you!! I'd love to read a trip report and learn something (many things) new! :)

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Posted (edited)

@@Anita ... thank you!! I'd love to read a trip report and learn something (many things) new! :)

 

Here is the trip report- 4 nights in Tinga camp and 2 nights fly camping:-)

http://safaritalk.net/topic/12731-zakouma-one-week-in-wildest-africa-paolo-and-inyathis-adventure-in-chad-april-2014-a-joint-trip-report/?hl=%2Bzakouma+%2Bwildest

 

 

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

 

https://www.african-parks.org/about-us/financials-and-annual-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!!

 

http://mailchi.mp/african-parks/zakouma-monthly-report-march-1766877?e=cd3b1727ad

Edited by Anita
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@@Anita

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.


There have been many occasions when I've questioned whether to carry on with Safaritalk: indeed most recently with the whole upgrade step, whether to throw in the towel but when I see comments like yours above I appreciate that in some small way it is making a difference and that difference isn't down to me, but you all as Safaritalk members who inspire others.

 

In the end this platform is one thing, but as a group of people from around the world with an interest not only in going on safari but in wildlife conservation, it's you, the members who are making the difference.

 

Matt

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@@inyathi BTW I'd be very happy to include a permanent donations link for African Parks here on ST which would display on every page... Also a bit more background on AP can be found on my interview with Michael Eustace, one of its founders.

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