Given that the African Lion, Grevy's Zebra, Black Rhinoceros, African Elephant, and Cheetah are all on the endangered species list, being eco-conscious is the only way to ensure that Africa's amazing biodiversity continues to thrive for years to come. But how can you be sure you're traveling green while on safari? Follow our four tips to minimize your footprint.
For more eco-inspiration, see our Top 10 Africa Eco Lodges.
1. Use a Green Operator
If you're serious about being an ecotourist, shouldn't your tour operator be ecologically conscious as well? To find one who feels as passionate about being green as you do, ask about their relationship with the communities where their safaris take place. Look into outfitters' philosophies on recycling, energy efficiency, water conservation, and waste management. And find out whether they maintain deep local ties; many reputable outfitters have even established foundations to support the area's peoples and wildlife. For extra measure, you can always vet your choice with agencies like Tourism Concern or Green Globe. Conservation organizations such as World Wildlife Fund or the African Wildlife Foundatio also promote green tourism standards.
2. Stay at a Lodge with High Environmental Standards
Want to sleep green while on safari? Then look for lodges that use solar power; are made from local materials, source local ingredients for their meals, and employ local guides, chefs, and porters. If the information isn't in their literature or online, don't be afraid to ask.
3. Minimize Your Footprint
Traveling with a green operator isn't the only thing you can do to minimize your impact. Consider booking nonstop flights (even if they cost more), purchasing local products whenever possible, using water and electricity sparingly, and bringing biodegradable soap and toothpaste. And, of course, don't litter or feed the animals!
4. Find Your Cause
If you want to contribute even more to Africa's sustainability, look for an organization to support or join as a volunteer. The African Conservation Foundation, a non-profit established in 1999, maintains a comprehensive list of local organizations on its website.
Photo Credit: Walking Safari, Courtesy Campi ya Kanzi