Africa’s Thirsty Animals: Water for Wildlife ConservationMarch 29, 2019
Preserving the health and diversity of all wildlife species and their habitats is an important aspect of the safari industry, with water conservation being a key driver in ensuring its success.
This month we celebrated World Water Day, an important time to create awareness around water conservation as water scarcity is fast becoming one of the world’s most complex challenges. It is being driven by, among other factors, a warming climate along with the mismanagement, over-consumption and pollution of water sources. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about one-third of the world’s population lives in areas that are experiencing water stress, and a large percentage of those affected are found in Africa.
Water stress due to scarcity does not only affect human populations, but also resident wildlife and their local environments found within these areas. Severe drought conditions in parts of Africa, particularly in sub-Saharan and Eastern Africa, has already had adverse consequences for the health of wildlife populations and the surrounding fragile ecosystems.
Water-dependent mammals can be forced to roam outside of their usual range in search of water and this can bring them in contact with communities hostile to encroachment of wildlife onto their land. Smaller species may struggle to adapt to the drastic reduction in rainfall and drying up of water holes.
This often forces larger mammals to dig into dry stream beds, which when successful, brings them much-needed water from low water tables. Unfortunately, this has negative consequences for buffalo and antelopes that become trapped in the holes making them an easy target for lions and leopards on the hunt.
Since tourism is a trillion dollar industry globally, it has a major impact on the well-being of people, wildlife and environment within the travel destination. Sustainable or responsible tourism principles can support and guide whether this impact is predominantly negative or positive, as it calls on tour operators, lodges and each tourist to travel in an environmentally-friendly way.
Choosing to stay at a safari lodge or camp that prioritises water conservation is an important way of ensuring your travel places minimal strain on local water sources, therefore not causing harm to local wildlife, environment as well as neighbouring community.
Tongabezi is a luxury lodge on the Zambezi River in Zambia that has invested in a custom-made water purification plant that recycles part of the lodge’s waste water for irrigation purposes and to feed the Tongabezi wildlife dam. Along with running completely on solar power, Wilderness Safaris’ Mombo Camp in the Okavango Delta, Botswana also treats all waste water (in an above-ground sewage plant, ensuring that the water is clean before re-entering the natural environment.
Going on a safari in Africa can have minimal impact on wildlife and the environment if done in a responsible way that considers the destination’s natural resources, like water. Chat to us about planning an eco-friendly safari to the country of your choice.
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