It is with a heavy heart that we learnt about the unlawful hunting of Cecil the Zimbabwean lion. One positive side to this tragic story is that it has gained worldwide coverage for conservation efforts in Southern Africa.

Dragonfly Africa has for many years been actively involved in conservation in Southern Africa through conservation tourism and our non-profit organisation – Green Tribe.

If clients would like to get involved in conservation efforts while in the country there are numerous projects they can join in. This can be run as a group or individual activity.

Wildlife conservation safaris offer wonderful, hands-on conservation opportunities for guests. These safaris fund essential work (blood tests, for example, or the removal of a radio collar, insertion of transmitters into rhino horns, or a dozen other tasks that are costly but necessary for conservation work). In return, guests are privy to a behind-the-scenes experience. This makes wildlife conservation safaris a win-win for all. In the past we have been involved mostly with rhinos but there are also projects involving lions, leopard and elephants in various locations around the country.

There are several rehabilitation centers in South Africa that are working hard to conserve endangered animal species. In the Kruger area you will find the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre, specializing in cheetah rehabilitation. At Shamwari Private Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape you will find the Shamwari Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, whose express aim is to rehabilitate and return all animals back into the wild. A visit to these centers contributes to the rehabilitation and research of these animals.

In Uganda and Rwanda we have the life-changing Gorilla Trekking experience to see the critically endangered African Mountain Gorillas. The World Wildlife Fund reports that there are only 880 individual mountain gorillas left in the world today. While it is considered a tourist activity, it is helping conserve these gentle giants through direct funding and the protection and awareness it affords them. By contributing to community upliftment in poverty-stricken areas, tourism offers employment and economic benefits that create positive spin-offs for gorilla conservation. As local people benefit from gorilla tourism and learn more about these primates, their relationship with the great apes shifts.

Human-wildlife conflict is reduced when people understand the gorillas better and have a vested interest in the well-being of the species. The gorillas are increasingly seen as income-generating resources that are valuable as long-term tourist attractions.