It’s that time of year again, and it seems to have crept up so quickly (or maybe I’m just getting old!). Now at the end of our second year in business at Matson & Ridley Safaris, Andy and I wanted to thank you for your support and to wish you a wonderful Christmas and new year. I’ve put together this short video (scroll down to see it), which I hope you’ll enjoy, sharing a few special memories of my adventures with you in the last couple of years in Botswana, Kenya and Namibia. Thanks to all who shared their photos for this, but in particular a big thanks to all the people who made these journeys so wonderful in Africa’s most incredible wild destinations!
For me, it’s a real joy to be able to reflect back and know that our fledgling safari business is helping support so many worthwhile on-ground conservation initiatives, from the Save The Rhino anti poaching efforts in Namibia, to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Mara Naibosho Lion Project. Those who come on my safaris often get to meet some of the dedicated people behind these operations.
And of course, just by supporting Matson & Ridley Safaris, you’ve helped me continue to keep spreading the word in the Let Elephants Be Elephants campaign, around Singapore, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Australia and even in my new base in the Netherlands. The LEBE campaign has raised approximately SGD$40,000 (almost US$30k) for awareness raising on ivory trade in Asia since its inception, and Nadya and I have spoken at dozens of schools, events, conferences and government departments across the region. A new study by Save The Elephants just revealed that growing public awareness through campaigns like the one by WildAid in China have played an important role in the halving of the price of ivory in the past year, a truly outstanding result that will help reduce elephant poaching. Our LEBE campaign continues in Southeast Asia in 2016 – more news to come on that soon.
But I think our biggest contribution through Matson & Ridley Safaris is the benefits your safari bookings provide in terms of local employment in Africa. Wilderness Safaris recently released a breakdown of how your safari dollars are spent, and most enlightening for me was that about two-thirds goes to local employment. This is so important! In Africa, conservation of wildlife is directly related to the economic benefits people get from wildlife, and so this really is a win-win scenario for both people and wildlife. In rural areas where these camps are, there are few other economic opportunities for people, so ecotourism done right can be a real lifeline. Asilia Africa, who we work with to plan your East African safaris, focus on education and conservation, as well as community partnerships to deliver long term sustainability that benefits local people. You can read more about their positive impact and approach to sustainable business development here. When you go on one of our safaris, either independently or with me, don’t forget to ask about all the incredible work these ecotourism companies are doing to ensure that you not only have an amazing experience but that the local people and wildlife directly benefit from the monies you spend.
Very soon we’ll be launching the new Matson & Ridley Safaris website, but in the meantime you can find us on the Matson & Ridley Safaris Facebook page – like us here to see the latest updates on all our safari offers and opportunities, and you can share your photos there too. We have big dreams for our conservation work – please help us get there by spreading the word about our ethical safaris!
Don’t forget it’s not too late to sign up to join me in northern Zimbabwe in September next year, and I still have one spot left for a single woman sharing in North West Namibia in May (last minute discount available for the latter). There are great deals available for family and group safaris in 2016 all over Africa’s safari regions, especially if you go in the green season. May 2016 be a year of adventure, excitement and inspiration for you all and I hope to see you by the campfire under a starry African sky soon!