optig

Where is African parks planning to upgrade next?

59 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

 

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. T!

 

 

 

 

Haha, yes. A few days back I received out of the blue a message on FB by the lady of this nice British couple - she apologized for not having had the chance to tell me face to face, but she attributed to my writings (so she said) their decision to take the jump and visiting Zakouma, a place she had longed to see for a long time.

 

Now I understand why she seemed so star-struck when she recognized Michael at the airport.... :rolleyes:

Edited by Paolo
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Posted (edited)

@@Anita I agree my airline analogy was incorrect, but it was written when I thought AP would only allow donors or what they/their accredited guides believed to be credible potential donors, with cash to splash in siginificant quantities. I don't actually have an issue with a price rise to 3000 dollars a night. It will take longer to save that kind of cash for me, but it would be my choice to do that and that was my point really. My original and only objection was the appearance of a specific exclusion of people based on their wealth and potential genorosity. @@Paolo did of course rectify that for me but our posts crossed and so I didn't see his reply until after I had posted my reply. I can't help thinking though AP have got something missing along the way here. Why the focus on guides to bring in donors? That seems such a risky strategy, guides have a living to make (even the most venerated) and so of course they want to offer this almost mythical destination to their clients be these loyal or newbies. Now AP have a lot of guide interest would it work to set an exclusive donor period, which could say the finest part of the short season?

Offer maximum flexibility for existing donors to visit with their guests if they have pledged recently? It may only be 2/3/4 nights per donor but would it be a way of pushing the edges of the relationship beyond the donor into their wider circles where potential donors may lurk instead of relying on guides so much to find donors. AP could really focus on the exclusivity aspect here, make the whole flexible experience for those who are cash-rich, time poor but philanthropically minded. AP could still hike prices and offer set departures to the rest of us outside of the donor period which would increase their revenue without jeopardising precious donor opportunities which are critical but still a small minority it would seem. Could it focus things a little and allow both kinds of visitor to co-exist and maximise revenues? I don't know the answer and certainly you and Paolo know more than any of us about AP and you both do an enormous amount for AP in a variety of ways which I really admire. So these are really just my ramblings :-)

 

@@inyathi Yes, I saw the Tusk Trust reference but I think it's fair to say it's not that helpful as there is no link and then as you note, there is no reference to AP donations on the Tusk Trust website. AP could really sharpen up here in terms of online donations, there donation tab assumes a 50 dollar minimum and you can't pay by payal. There is so much they could do to improve their online giving experience and begin the journey of cultivating the life long donor. Some of whom will end up being big donors because some people will always make it big and if they are lucky enough to catch one persons imagination at 17, who then does well in life, bingo, 15 years later they have their big donor. Today's connected world makes that so much easier but they just don't seem to be making the most of that opportunity.

Edited by ld1
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@@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.

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Posted (edited)

After @@Paolo's first safari to Zakouma I got very excited about going there myself.

 

Unfortunately I cannot afford to stay at Camp Nomad. That means that the option available to me is Tinga Lodge.

Whilst it is not the same standard as Camp Nomad, I am sure it would not be the worst place that I have stayed.

 

I have friends who include Zakouma in their Chad itineraries and use Tinga on a regular basis. They say it is OK, but their clients are visiting as part of a more general tour and are not going just for wildlife & wildlife photography.

 

If, as has been mooted in this discussion, Tinga Lodge does not have sufficient vehicles to offer all their guests game drives, that is a problem. In fact I would not go under those circumstances. It is complete anathema to me to knowingly offer a product that you know is sub-standard. Surely the prime goal of any business is satisfied clients.

 

I have no problem at all with there being 2 different levels of accommodation and experience in Zakouma.

I have no problem with the 'A' product (Camp Nomad) being given preferential rights in the park.

I have no problem at all with African Parks courting donors and looking after their donors; their very existence depends on it.

Without those donors the chance to experience Zakouma would not be available, at any price.

 

However, I do think that if there are going to be 2 levels on offer they should be properly managed.

If there are not enough vehicles to accommodate all guests at Tinga then either limit the number of guests or get more vehicles.

If the problem is funding, then increase the rates to generate more revenue.

My impression is that as Zakouma's reputation grows there will be an ever increasing number of people who want to go there and in the context of the overall trip, even doubling the rates at Tinga would not impact on visitor numbers. It will still be way cheaper than Camp Nomad.

 

My suggestion for Zakouma:

  • Designate Camp Nomad as a donors camp and block off the best periods of the year for donors only?
  • Let operators book out the whole camp at other times in 1 week blocks on a first come first served basis, but ensure that no single operator grabs a monopoly.
  • Allow an approved list of guides to come in and run safaris using mobile/fly camps, using allocated camping sites. Don't let any one guide/company monopolise any one site.
  • Upgrade Tinga Lodge so it is a good mid range accommodation with adequate vehicles and good resident guides.

Could it be done? I have no idea.

Edited by Soukous
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Returning to @@optig's original point: is there a "wishlist" of parks/reserves throughout sub-Saharan Africa which need management at a level which African Parks could provide, as evidenced by Zakouma?

 

Is it fair to say that if Chad wasn't previously on the safari goer's radar, (whether it be high end, mid range, budget), and now is becoming so, that other less visited destinations, or hitherto off the radar places, (whether through security issues, travel logistics, lack of tourism development and properties etc.,) could likewise benefit from this kind of involvement/partnership?

 

The question of model I suppose is different to the original question as posed by @@optig. But what is the best way for such parks and reserves to work? And be for the benefit of the wildlife and ecosystems?

 

Many people would love to go to Zakouma: thanks to the dedication of all those entities and individuals involved, and that includes members of Safaritalk who have been and reported back, and as mentioned earlier in this topic, inspired others to follow in their footsteps. But think back 10 years: would Zakouma have been on your radar then?

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@@Anita I don't disagree with a word you say. Camp Salamat is a great idea and I recall the Footsteps Camp in the Shinde concession in Botswana had a similar initiative but on a smaller scale. Where they brought kids out to the camp to learn about the bush and conservation at the beginning and end of the season. It sounds like Salamat would be a great idea in terms of low value, high volume online fundraising!

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Returning to @@optig's original point: is there a "wishlist" of parks/reserves throughout sub-Saharan Africa which need management at a level which African Parks could provide, as evidenced by Zakouma?

 

 

 

A wishlist...These are a view areas which spring to mind.

The WAP area (Pendjair-Arly-W) in Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. Or any subset of it. Niokolo-Koba in Senegal (small populations of elephants, lions, giant sable and wild dogs left). Dinder NP in Sudan seems to hold reasonable numbers of animals, Manovo-Gounda-Saint-Flores NP in CAR might hold viable animal populations, some area in South Sudan are very much worth protecting. Basically any area with wildlife left in central and western Africa is worth protecting from an animal conservation point of view.

Large areas in south-east Angola could prove to be incredible wildlife areas if given the chance to recover (Luiana, Mucosso, Luengue, Longa Mavinga), Cameia NP could be a fantastic destination but I'm not sure if there are any viable mammal populations left. Cangadala and/or Luando are worth protecting just because these are the only areas where small populations of one of the rarest antelopes are left (giant sables). And Kafue NP in Zambia could benefit from increased funding.

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Posted (edited)

@@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.

 

@@Game Warden Thanks yes why not if you want to do that, AP and their work comes up sufficiently often that I’m sure a few people might wish to donate.

 

@ld1 You have hit the nail on the head really, when I look at the Tusk website if I want to donate to them, I can do it all online very quickly and easily. The other day when I wanted to give something to Emmanuel de Merode who was running the London Marathon for Virunga NP (where as you probably know he is the park warden) it was again very easy through the Virgin Giving page set up on his behalf, it only took me a couple of minutes at most. That was a very good thing because I only discovered he was going to be running at the last minute and they stopped taking donations a few days afterwards. If it hadn’t been so easy I might have put it off and then missed the boat. He succeeded in raising just over 1 million dollars for Virunga's rangers and their families from over 3,400 donors, I'm sure there must have been a few pretty large donations, but a good deal would have been raised from modest donations made by people giving whatever they can. This example I think illustrates your point about low value high volume fund raising. Emmanuel only announced he was running the marathon two months before and I only heard about it the day before, if it had received more publicity I'm sure he could easily have raised much more, even if he was just aiming for a target of $1 million.

 

Even if you aren’t able to visit Zakouma you may well be able to visit other parks in AP’s portfolio like Majete, Liwonde and Nkhotakota in Malawi. Or perhaps Akagera in Rwanda although the recent hike in the price of gorilla permits may put a few people of going to the Rwanda. Even if you don’t get a chance to go to their parks and see the work that they do, you can read about their work and see their photos and videos online, that show the success of what they are doing. As I mentioned in another thread the black rhinos going to Rwanda will be arriving in Akagera in just under a week, even if you don’t get to go and see them you can follow their progress online. When giving money to any charity you don’t always get to see where it goes and how it’s used, given all the bad news about rhinos it’s easy to question whether the money you give for rhino conservation is achieving anything, but with AP you can see the results.

 

I don't really know enough about AP's operations @@optig so this is really just my opinion. Negotiations with governments take a long time and then don’t always come to anything, because the government won’t agree to APs full terms or it may be for all sorts of other reasons. In Nigeria AP were hoping to secure Gashaka Gumti and Cross River NPs which would have been amazing, but this came to nothing I think because in the end Nigerian law got in the way, that under Nigerian law the government could not cede control of its parks to an outside body or something like that, I don't really know the details. Either way negotiations there came to nothing, I can understand therefore why AP might be slightly reluctant to announce which countries they are negotiating with and which parks they are hoping to take on, until everything is pretty much settled.

 

@egilio AP did carry out some wildlife surveys in Niokolo-Koba and I presume were negotiating with Senegal to take on the park, but this evidently didn't come to anything which is sad as I suspect the park may have gone downhill since then. I'm not quite sure from what I have read whether there are definitely still elephants in NKNP or whether they are in fact already extinct, they would be the only elephants in the country so if they're gone then elephants would be extinct in Senegal. I think you meant to say giant eland as the park should have one of the only significant herds of western giant eland left.

 

In eventually securing 20 parks part of APs aim is to ensure that they are looking after as diverse a range of habitats as possible, so I presume they will be looking for parks encompassing habitats that aren’t already well represented in their current parks. I have read on Wikipedia that they may be looking to take on a Mozambican marine park probably Bazaruto NP but I don't know more than that.

 

If CAR becomes stable enough, then given that they are already operating in the country Manovo would be an obvious park to take on, as I would guess it’s about midway between Chinko and Zakouma and both of these parks could provide animals of the appropriate species/subspecies for restocking if that proved necessary.

 

I would be interested to know just how much wildlife there really is left in Dinder. I know that Nubian giraffes were poached out sometime in the 80s and it was thought that elephants had gone by the 90s although it appears that a few may occasional wander over the border from Alatash NP in Ethiopia. I doubt there can be many elephants in this area given the Sudanese love for killing them whenever they can. Black rhinos are obviously long gone. There should also be Tora hartebeest in Dinder but I suspect they are extinct, I believe it is feared that this race may be completely extinct or near enough. However there may be reasonable numbers of the other animals that have survived. If AP took on Dinder perhaps in combination with Alatash that would be great, the latter park has come up before because of the discovery that there are still lions there.

 

Lost Lion population discovered in Ethiopia

 

AP has been involved in Sudan before as they were managing two marine parks there for a while but I guess for some reason that didn’t work out, I think it’s probably unlikely that they will go back to Sudan, I don't imagine it's the easiest country to work in. Although I thought it was unlikely that they would go back in to Ethiopia, having had problems there before but they are currently working towards taking on Gambela NP, this is a very important park for the white-eared kob migration and for its population of Nile lechwe and other wildlife. I wouldn’t know if further involvement in Ethiopia is likely, but besides Alatash, Awash or Bale Mts are parks that could do with being far better protected and managed than they are.

 

Having an old book on the wildlife parks of Africa I could happily play a game of fantasy parks as it were and pick various parks I’d like to see taken on. I believe that AP only really go for parks where they are really sure they can be successful, that it is to say parks that are still in a reasonable enough state, there are some parks that are just too far gone. Parks where the challenges are just too great, or that would be just too expensive to take on. Mupa NP in Angola for example, which has been taken over entirely by local people who have moved in and started farming causing severe damage to the habitat, and most of the animals like Angolan giraffes are long gone. Somehow relocating all of the people and restoring the habitat and the wildlife would be a monumental and massively expensive task that they wouldn’t be willing or able to take on, restoring a complete wreck of a park like this just isn’t realistic. Some of the other parks in Angola could possibly be taken on; another candidate not mentioned is Iona NP at the northern most end of the Namib. This park might not be a priority as the wildlife of the Namib is so well protected further south but it could I would guess be restocked from Namibia without too much difficulty if the animals can be transported over the Kunene River and perhaps one day could be home to desert adapted elephants and black rhinos once more. A few years ago evidence of cheetahs was discovered in the park so it evidently does still have some wildlife. I guess developing tourism might be challenge as most tourists would probably think why would I go to Iona NP when I can see all of the same species very easily in Namibia.

 

Anyway having given it some thought I think my vote would be for Comoé NP in Cote D’Ivoire. My understanding is that the country is now peaceful after their brief civil war, although they seem to be having a problem with the army mutinying over their pay, I hope they can resolve this matter peacefully. If the country is stable again then this is a park that could seriously benefit from proper management. The park is in the transitional zone between rainforest and savannah so it should have a real mixture of rainforest and savannah species. My impression was that the park had been very badly poached and I know it no longer has lions, but it seems there’s a lot more wildlife left than I imagined, there is a chimpanzee conservation project in the park and I recently came across this compilation of camera trap videos that they have put together. I was going to post it elsewhere but this seems like as good a place as any.

 

I wouldn't know if there is any possibility that AP could take on Comoé but those videos show that is still an amazing park and I believe it's pretty big, so it is protecting good sized area of West African habitat. If everything goes ahead successfully with Pendjari and they are able to boost the lion population there enough, then it might be possible some time in the future to consider restoring lions to Comoé or perhaps Mole NP in Ghana which is not far from Comoé.

Edited by inyathi
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Posted (edited)

@@inyathi

 

Unfortunately, African Parks has been forced by certain circumstances to discontinue its involvement in Gambella towards the end of last year.

 

As to the Emmanuel de Merode fundraising in connection with the London Marathon, in total as you say 3400 people donated but half the $1 million as Paul Leander-Engström, though his organisation, The World We Want Foundation,doubled the donated amount (with a match dollar for dollar scheme ) to bring it to the USD1,080,000 number. Of the 3400, 1255 donated on the Virgin Giving site a total of USD121K at an average of USD 100 and since there were a number of of USD 25-40 donations, some people must have donated much more than the average. Balance people donated offline and would have definitely had some bigger donations to bring it. Its usually a 90/10 ppprtion in crowd donations like this.

Edited by Paolo
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@Paolo Yes I was aware of that and perhaps in the interests of accuracy I should really have mentioned it. I was really just supporting @@ld1's point about AP’s website, of course big donors aren’t going to donate through the giving page on a website. I just like to think that all donations help and that there plenty of people of people who would happily donate a modest amount when they can and might go on to donate larger amounts in future perhaps. Therefore it should be as easy to donate through AP’s website as it to donate through the websites of other charities, if people look and think oh that’s too complicated or I haven’t got time to do it now I’ll do it some other time, chances are they won’t bother. I would guess that a lot of people in the UK aren’t really familiar with AP and the work that they do, but when the lions were released in Akagera the story was to my knowledge covered by all of the major newspapers and I presume that will be the case again with the rhinos. People reading about the lions or the rhinos might then be inspired to look up AP’s website and might donate something if it was much easier to do so. Likewise when rangers are tragically killed in the line of duty in Garamba as still happens too often and is reported here on ST, it would good if people who feel moved to donate to the ranger’s families and to the park could do so very easily. Small donations may not be the most efficient way of giving but if it’s all people can afford I don’t think they should be deterred from giving what they can. Or that people should be deterred from making spur of the moment donations because they won’t likely donate at all. Small or modest donations from ordinary people concerned about Africa’s wildlife may not matter as much as the big donations but does it not all add up in the end?

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@@inyathi

 

Of course it all adds up in the end and the more money the better. No one is disputing this. I was just indicating some figures closer to the reality.

 

As to the fundraising strategy of AP (or others) I am no expert in that field, though I know AP has some dedicated professionals who surely know better than me.

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@@inyathi @@Paolo I checked my postcode lottery account and to date AP has received £1.35m from this source as part of the Planet Trust which has been receiving funding from the postcode lottery since Aug 2014. The lottery donates a minimum of 30% per draw to various causes and over the first 6 months of 2017 Planet Trust accounted for only 4 of the 60 draws that will take place. It's not an insignificant amount from a fund that probably isn't getting an equal slice of the post code lottery pie compared to others. My point is really the world is more connected than ever and AP are behind the curve in terms of online giving. Their website is clunky and looks to my in un-trained eye like it's hard coded which makes it difficult to change things by non-technical people. That's a shame as the world has moved on, you can book a plane/train ticket, order your groceries and tell you friends what you are eating, right now, via your phone. Not making the most of this is in my view missing out. It may be viewed as requiring too much work or investment to undertake this kind of thing and maybe a few years ago it was, but with companies like raisingit now providing support focussed at online charity giving and content management software that even allows me to manage my own web content without any HTML or coding skills. It seems a shame that such an amazing cause isn't capitalizing on the social media boom

and giving potential from this. All it would take is a share from someone like Ricky Gervais (Comedian and animal lover) and AP would reach his 4m Facebook followers.

 

Anyway I'll shut up now as I can't answer Game Wardens question. The only way I ever find new places to go is via Safaritalk. I'd be lost without it and all of you!

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Posted (edited)

@@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.

Edited by Anita
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Posted (edited)

@@Soukous

 

Surely the prime goal of any business is satisfied clients.

 

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 :-)

Edited by Anita
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I didn’t want to post a whole lot more on the issue of donations and go further off topic but I think for the benefit of people who don’t live in the UK it would be helpful to explain what the problem is.

 

@@Anita

 

Yes I can donate quickly and easily the way you describe, but the point is I don't want donate that way because when I do I can't add Gift Aid.

 

The criticism of the website and the ease of donating really relates specifically to people living in the UK. If you are a UK taxpayer then any money you donate to a charity (as long as it is not over four times what you’ve paid in tax for the year) qualifies for Gift Aid. This is a way of encouraging people to give by making it more tax efficient, without wanting to go into all of the details because it depends what rate of taxpayer you are and so on. What it basically means is that for every £1 donated an extra 25p is added, so if someone donates £100 to a charity the charity actually receives £125, and if you are a high rate taxpayer when you submit your tax return you can claim back £25. Therefore in the end you are in effect only donating £75 but the charity is receiving £125. In order to ensure that the charity is able to claim Gift Aid normally whether you are donating online or the old fashioned way through the post, you tick a box confirming that you are a UK taxpayer and that you want the charity to be able to claim Gift Aid. As I understand it this applies to charities in the UK and also the EU plus Norway and Iceland.

 

The point therefore is that if you are a UK citizen, you cannot add Gift Aid to your donation to AP if you donate through their website, therefore AP gets less money and if you are a high rate taxpayer you can’t claim any of it back, therefore it’s not a tax efficient way to give. Both AP and the donor are losing out.

 

AP has an arrangement with Tusk Trust so that UK citizens can Gift Aid their donations to AP via Tusk but you can’t just do it this way through the AP website nor through the Tusk website. If I am donating to Tusk online, I would tick the Gift Aid box and know that Tusk will get the extra 25% but I can’t do that for AP. Tusk Trust as I said earlier do not say anything about AP on their website, if I donate through their donations page the money goes purely to Tusk.

 

I hope that's explained the issue, as that's as much as I want to say on donating.

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As someone who is resident in West/central/sahel 85pc of the year I hope AP does not implement their Zakouma model to pendjari in terms of restrictions.

 

Hopefully guides like @@Tony Busanga & other wildlife enthusiasts go into the west/sahel/central parks. Visit Gola, W, niokolo koba, bioko, kanji, benoue, lobeke, tai etc etc.

 

Two recent trip reports had pygmy hippo sightings at Gola! You can find African manatee in Senegal!

Just go!!

 

These regions are not merely black holes on a map. They have industry, infrastructure, development​ happening. They have available logistics.

 

As for cost - the average traveller needs to understand west/central/sahel is exquisitely expensive for EVERYTHING. That price does not necessarily reflect quality either. It's just how it is. Operational & logistics for Zakouma would be enormous. 390k revenue is pittance.

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@@wenchy Interesting suggestions, since AP is protecting a sizeable chunk of the Congo Basin Rainforest in Odzala Kokoua it would be good to take on an area of Upper Guinea Rainforest as well such as Tai NP in Cote D’Ivoire.

 

Gola Forest straddles the Sierra Leone/Liberia border it supports a good variety of endangered wildlife and is particularly noted for its birds which is why the newly created national park on the Sierra Leone side is well supported by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Gola has been one of the RSPB’s main overseas projects for some time now they were instrumental in helping to get the forest declared a national park. I’m not sure how things have progressed but it is hoped that Gola can be turned into a transfrontier Peace Park so that both sides of the border are protected. The RSPB quite often have updates from Gola in their magazine with camera trap images of some of the wildlife including chimps and pygmy hippos. Obviously Sierra Leone’s fledgling tourist industry was very hard hit by the Ebola crisis but since that ended tourists have started going back. I’m not sure how many people go into Gola NP but certainly small numbers of tourists visit neighbouring Tiwai Island Sanctuary which is one of the best place to see primates like the beautiful Diana monkey. The island is in the middle of the Moa River next to Gola Forest and there is if you are extremely lucky a chance of seeing pygmy hippos if you go out at night.

 

Gola Rainforest National Park

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Thanks @@inyathi . If you have any interest in going I have the senior researcher working in gola & coordinating guest guiding logistics email info. The trip reports were not camera traps but actual sightings by tourists. I'd recently considered it after pendjari & arli but opted for tai instead.

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@@Soukous

 

Surely the prime goal of any business is satisfied clients.

 

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 :-)

 

No argument there @@Anita your knowledge of Zakouma and African Parks far exceeds my own.

and if, as you say, the risk of insufficient vehicles only occurs at peak periods then it is a relatively easy task to avoid those periods.

 

I do have confidence though that African Parks will get it right.

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@@Soukous my knowledge is very limited but like you my confidence is very high :-)

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Thanks @@wenchy there’s obviously a better chance of seeing a pygmy hippo than I thought. I had hoped to visit Sierra Leone a few years ago but that didn’t work out, hopefully I may get there sometime although at the moment I’m not sure quite when that might be. Even so yes if you have some contact emails you could PM me that would be great.

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Posted (edited)

@@Anita / @@Soukous

 

Central Africa and more generaly the Sahel region has now a very bad reputation, especially in France, because of the Boko Haram terrorism issue. I have no doubts that one day (mid to long term) the situation will stabilize and that europeans, especially Italian and French citizens will travel back to Niger, Mali and Chad. These travelers should be interested to combine Zakouma with the Saharan more clasic destinations.

 

If restrictions have been reduced to travel in Chad lastly, business is still at its low.

 

What I want to state is that the security context is not favoring traveleres, businessmen and expats to visit Zakouma today, and it is likely that Zakouma will continue to need donors for a long time to finance the needs of the park. Chad is a corrupted, undeveloped country. This is a very diferent situation compared to Rwanda with its steep economic growth, which offer stability and good conditions for international and local tourism (Akagera earnings from local tourism is about $600 kUSD.

 

Meanwhile, APN has always showed to develop good strategies and businessplans, I am sure they will continue to slowly increase their revenues in the Park. I have great hopes that the development of Ennedi as a protected area will boost tourism back to Chad if the region continues to be safe (what would hapen is Deby leaves is another story), the Northern region is safe, contrary to the regions neighboring Cameroon, Nigeria (Boko Haram), Darfour (Chadian rebels and unstable region) and CAR (the government hardly control some neighborhoods of Bangui with th help of the French army).

 

As @@inyathi I hope one day Manovo will recover, but I am very pesimistic. Eastern Chad is a no go zone, Bangassou in the South is now controled by the Seleka militias and refugees had to flee to safer areas (Chinko is actually the safer place in the area). Same for the Northern region of CAR. Borderline with Southern Sudan is infected with rebels of the LRA and other groups. The Ugandan and American special units left the country and stoped the track of Joseph Kony, which will probably lead to more instability. And things are going worse and worse.

 

Given this situation, I am deeply impresed about the results of APN in these two protected areas, but more especially to be able to stabilize the larger area surrounding the parks. APN parks are not only well managed on the conservation point of view, they proved to be great oportunities for security, development, work oportunities for the local populations around the parks. It is thus mistake to try to evaluate the results of the NGO only focusing on the economic results of the protected areas.

Edited by jeremie
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@@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!

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Posted (edited)

True @@Anita, I will follow your recomendation.

It is very interesting to read these reports to understand what are they really doing. You can easily suscribe to receive the newsletters.

 

Here is the anual 2016 report I have published in the Newsletter section of ST:

http://safaritalk.net/topic/17410-apn-2016-anual-report/#entry224543

 

And here is the last monthly report:

http://safaritalk.net/topic/17409-apn-march-april-2017-monthly-report/

 

Hope this will help to better understand APN job with huge issues such as: be involved on many fronts for massive wildlife restocking, fighting to stop poaching, securing areas in unlaw areas, protect locals from rebels, promote sustainable economic and social development for the comunities around the parks...

 

I do not think APN will try to get another park in these dificult areas, they already have huge challenges with Garamba (with the largest ranger forces and the larger bugdet of the portfolio), Chinko, Odzala and Zakouma.

Edited by jeremie
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@@jeremie

 

" Central Africa and more generaly the Sahel region has now a very bad reputation, especially in France, because of the Boko Haram terrorism issue. I have no doubts that one day (mid to long term) the situation will stabilize and that europeans, especially Italian and French citizens will travel back to Niger, Mali and Chad. These travelers should be interested to combine Zakouma with the Saharan more clasic destinations. "

 

BH is largely restricted to lake Chad region affecting only northern Cameroon ( garoua and beyond ) & diffa on Niger side ( ie you can travel to zinder without fear of bh incursion ).BH does not affect central Africa

 

Southern mali is still accessible. Security precarious but ok in bamako. Even djenne is accessible. Any further north is absolutely off limits/NOT safe. Between Al sahwari /mujao & the now merged Al mourabitoun , ansar dine & aqim along with the multitude of independent group banditry Mali is only going to further deteriorate in the future.

 

Niger - niamey, tahoua, W np are very accessible and safe. zinder much the same with termit being accessible with obligatory military escorts. I was in arlit and agadez area with safety being an issue due to human/drug trafficking routes and the economies that have spring up around it. The positive is that northern Niger is FULL of surveillance security ( vs no man's land in northern mali )

 

In Chad both spazidavventura & FJ are still active in treks to ennedi, tibesti ( eastern , mtns ) emi kousi , etc. FJ heading to tassilli n'ajjer(algeria) and sudan as well. However I did tibesti and there are land mines still plaguing the region. Clearing operations underway but still present and the closer you are to the Libyan border the more precarious no matter how desolote a region.

 

Nigeria - BH only operates kaduna region to borno. Otherwise parks like kanji, cross river no, afi mtns are very much unaffected by BH.

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