Land custodians, video producers, culinary development and healthcare support – Africa’s safari operators are taking this time to retrain and upskill their teams in an effort to keep everyone employed.
In a recent newsletter we talked about “Ubuntu,” a philosophy maintaining that when you uplift individuals, you uplift a community. Never shying away from hard work, or willing to be complacent, many in the safari world are practicing Ubuntu by demonstrating grit and creativity in the face of hard times.
In Botswana, Great Plains Conservation has told us that their guides, who normally are on safari with clients, are now joining the wildlife monitoring teams. This is helping to supplement the number of people on the ground keeping an eye on the wildlife and gives the existing monitors precious time off. They have also pulled all sewing machines from camps and brought them back to their Maun headquarters where staff are busy making masks.
Johnny Cross, guide-cum-front-of house manager at Kenya’s Ol Jogi Wildlife Conservancy, tells us that Risper, their spa manager, has been using her time to train employees, from gardeners to anti-poaching rangers, on personal hygiene and social protocols to help keep them healthy during the pandemic.
At nearby Cottar’s 1920s Safari Camp in the Masai Mara, Kurtut, a member of the cleaning team, stayed on when the camp temporarily closed, and is spending time in the kitchen learning cooking skills from the chef. In additioan, head guide Doug is now leading weekly Zoom skills trainings with the Cotter’s team.
Namibia’s Ultimate Safaris is also thinking outside of the box. Co-founder Tristan Cowley reports that that several of their guides are now utilizing their filming skills to produce a video series “Namibia Conservation First – Covid Chronicles.” Alongside this project, several of their camp staff are becoming land custodians, taking charge and assisting with anti-poaching efforts and research data collection.
Over at Nomad Safaris in Tanzania, senior guide Mwiga Mambo is sharing his intimate knowledge of his beloved chimps and fundraising to help preserve their habitat. He is honing his social media skills and encouraging his colleagues to reach out to conservation-minded individuals. Nomad has also taken this time to develop their healthcare initiatives that benefit rural communities.
A creative and “can-do” attitude is keeping the team at Imvelo Safaris busy as well. Given the economic and political challenges of the last two decades, most safari operators in Zimbabwe know how to adapt to difficult situations. Imvelo reports that members of their team are helping maintain and run water pumps in the park for the animals as well as pumps for people in the surrounding communities, assisting with human wildlife conflict mitigation, and helping with various community programs including a children’s feeding program. Additionally, Imvelo’s managing director Mark ‘Butch’ Butcher is doing guide training to helping patrol the park and protect its wildlife.
Keeping skills and knowledge up to date is more critical than ever. In-person training and schooling has had to quickly move online which can prove challenging in remote areas where internet can be sporadic. TransAfrica, a company specializing in West Africa, typically hosts an annual in-person guide training. Because of travel restrictions, the team swiftly pivoted to a remote training course. 33 guides in 7 countries will continue their annual training on African history, anthropology, environmental conservation, and more – all online.
At Sausage Tree Camp and Potato Bush Camp in Zambia’s Lower Zambezi, there are two different forms of new jobs taking place. Owner Jason Mott moved his family of four from Lusaka to the Lower Zambezi so that he could take on the role of ranger to help patrol the park. Also, the camp’s delivery trucks were repurposed to deliver 10 foot-operated handwashing stations to the local village for improved hygiene.
These are just a sample of the seemingly endless innovative approaches being taken across the continent. If you would like to learn more about how our partners are helping their teams proactively build their skills, cross train or repurpose their jobs and practicing Ubuntu, please call us, we would love to chat.