Part eight – wildlife harassment series
Most tourists have invested a substantial amount of money for their safari. The airfare alone is expensive. They expect to have a professional driver/guide who is certified. They insist on seeing the “big five.” They anticipate the best.
Clients are determined to live the safari of their wildest dreams because they know they may never return to Africa.
If I were a client, I would feel the same way.
But every safari has requisite preparations, such as inoculations, visas and packing guidelines.
Whichever safari clients select, game drive guidelines need to be included with pre-departure information.
If clients are not given these guidelines, then they are going into a situation totally unaware of what to expect and what is expected from them.
Yet even with the most comprehensive planning, and regardless of how well-travelled and educated the client is, something disturbing happens.
Perhaps it’s exuberance at seeing animals free for the first time that pre-empts any information the client received on safari etiquette.
But once on safari they decide they should be able to do anything they want, see what they want, and tell the driver what to do and where to go.
They forget they are visiting someone’s home and that someone could be placed on the endangered species list at a moment’s notice.
At this point, one would surmise the guide would intercede and gently bring that client back to reality. But sometimes the guide gives in, since it’s his duty to ensure that his clients have the best safari possible.
Some drivers will acquiesce to clients wishes for another reason, says Paul Kirui. “These drivers are not well paid, and knowing that they will be receiving a tip at the end of safari, they will do anything to please their guests.”
Mara conservancy officials have observed tourists trying to bribe rangers out of a fine, which they deserved, then behave even more badly when their bribe backfired.
During many of my safaris, my clients and I have witnessed littering, crowding, excessive noise and tourist-laden vans chasing after a cheetah attempting to make a kill for its dinner.
Are these infractions due to naiveté on the part of the client, or guide or both?
In any case, it’s logical that if clients arrive for safari armed with the knowledge of game drive guidelines and why they are essential, then more often than not, they will be the tourists every tour operator and guide dreams of working with.
They also will be the tourists who will have a positive influence on others creating more awareness about client/wildlife interaction.
Part nine – an epilogue to Kenya’s wildlife harassment