There’s no beating around the bush, COVID-19 is severely impacting life as we know it around the world. Many of us are practicing social distancing, self-quarantine, and other extreme measures to end the spread. That’s why we feel that online safari content is so important right now to make up for the lack of coronavirus tourism.
Coronavirus Tourism and Small Business Impact
It is a scary time, particularly for the travel and tourism industry. Brave Africa is not immune to everything that’s going on around the world.
But as long as we stick together, listen to the advice of medical professionals, and do what is best for everyone, we can get through it stronger than ever.
Botswana Coronavirus Update – March 27, 2020
While Botswana (as of Friday, March 27, 2020) still has no confirmed cases of the virus, tourism has effectively shut down in the country.
According to the Government of Botswana in line with the Public Health Act 2013, all individuals from the following high-risk countries will not be allowed entry: China, Japan, South Korea, Iran, USA, UK, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and India. There’s also warning of an “imminent countrywide lock-down” to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic with soldiers watching all borders.
Already, almost all international travel has shut down, but there is good news. We will still be here when the coronavirus is defeated and life returns to normal (or the new normal), whether that’s in a few weeks or a few months.
Brave Africa’s Coronavirus Response: GREAT Online Safari Content
The Brave Africa team is in constant communication about how to handle the coronavirus crisis and what we can do to keep moving forward. As we wrote in our previous blog, we are allowing all current clients to postpone their booking up to 12 months with no penalties. And we’re honoring the same rate whether you rebook this year or wait until 2021.
But what about for everyone stuck at home, dreaming of being anywhere else?
We are going to be providing great content across our social media platforms and blog. If you can’t come to us for a safari, we’ll come to you on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
Here’s a little about the type of online safari content you can expect to keep you entertained as you are quarantined
On Mondays, we’re going to start taking you on virtual safaris (#virtualsafari)! From the comfort of your home, you can journey with us into the Okavango Delta in Botswana to see the animals, hear the sounds of the bush, and experience the majesty of being on safari.
The goal is to let you get out of the house even just for a little while through your phone or computer screen. We want you to have something to look forward to every Monday for the coming weeks and months as we protect ourselves and each other. It’s the easiest way to enjoy some coronavirus tourism.
So, be sure to tune into our social media pages every Monday to check out the latest #virtualsafari video!
Watch the first video here!
To help keep you entertained while you’re at home in self-quarantine, we’ve started sharing a fun puzzle every Wednesday on our Facebook and Twitter pages. This online puzzle takes one of our favorite pictures from safari and breaks it down into 48 puzzle pieces (or more) that you can then put together online.
It’s a great diversion for ten or so minutes in the middle of the week when we know you can really use it. If you really like these puzzles, we’ll keep them up and make them harder as we go! You can find our first African sunset puzzle here.
Then, on Fridays, we’re sharing pictures from our Brave Africa coloring book! We’re taking some of our favorite safari images and transforming them into black and white coloring pages that you can print out at home and transform into your own artwork.
We encourage you to go as crazy or as accurate as you want on the drawings. That’s why we’ll always upload the original photo along with the coloring book download, so you can decide what type of art you want to create. Is this fun online safari content, or what!?
Photos from the Bush
We know there’s a lot of doom and gloom in the world right now, so we promise to continue sharing beautiful, inspiring, and fun photos from the bush. Because we all need something to smile about during this time.
You might not be able to go on safari right now, or even in the next few weeks, (since COVID-19 tourism is not allowed) but the bush is always there, waiting for us to explore. Join us throughout the week as we share candid animal pictures taken by our guests and employees.
It is just one small way we hope our online safari content brightens up each of your days.
Sometimes the best way to get through an unpleasant time is to think about the future. Truthfully, we do not know when the coronavirus pandemic will end, and travel will return to normal. We hope it is only a few weeks or months from now, but it could be much longer than that.
No matter how long it takes, we do know that there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Whether it is this summer, fall, winter, or 2021, we will be able to travel and explore the world again. And we do not know about you, but we are definitely going to have cabin fever!
What better way to pass the days than to plan your future vacation? You do not have to make any commitments right now, we know things are too uncertain, but you can dream.
This is a great time to collect airline miles and credit card points so you can get a free flight to Africa later this year or next. It is also an excellent opportunity to begin budgeting and planning your dream vacation.
During these next few weeks, we will try to help you out with blogs and other content offering tips and advice on planning your dream safari vacation. It is never too early to get started. There is a lot you need to know and do to have the best trip possible, so we will be here to help.
Online Safari Content You Want
Last, but certainly not least, we would love feedback about what type of content you would like to see.
We know how negatively COVID-19 is affecting everything and its particularly strong impact on the travel industry is unlike anything we have ever seen before. So, we would like to know what online safari content you want to see.
Do you want:
More videos and images from the bush because they are a great distraction from the constant stream of bad news?
More information about what is going on in Botswana and how the coronavirus is impacting everything there?
Behind the scenes looks at what Brave Africa is doing to weather the coronavirus crisis?
Let us know!
We know this is a challenging time for everyone. The good news is that it also presents an incredible opportunity for all of us to put aside our differences and come together as a global community. We are all in this together, and the more we can do to support each other, the better.
Our thoughts are with those who are sick, have lost their jobs, or are otherwise struggling in the world as it is now.
At Brave Africa, we are doing our best to hang in there during the storm and make it out to the other side. Stay tuned as we update our website, keep sharing great content, and do what we can to keep you informed.
We know that travel right now is frightening. With the coronavirus (Covid-19) spreading more and more quickly, we know that many people are canceling or placing their travel plans on hold for now. And we completely understand. However, if you do decide to still travel, we want you to know that we are doing everything within our power to ensure you have a great time with Brave Africa. Read our new Brave Africa coronavirus policy below.
Coronavirus Update in Botswana and Southern Africa
Currently, coronavirus infections have been few and far between on the African continent. Egypt is home to more than half of all confirmed cases on the content with 59 confirmed. The good news is that Egypt is nowhere close to Botswana, which still has ZERO confirmed cases.
South Africa recently announced seven confirmed cases, all from the same group of ten people who returned from a vacation in northern Italy. The infected individuals have all self-quarantined, and so far no cases have been discovered outside of the group—all of whom are young and in generally good health.
All of this is to say that Africa may be one of the safest places to visit when it comes to the coronavirus. There are very few if any cases across the continent, and when you go on safari, you are generally around a very small, select group of people. So, there is very little chance to catch the virus from other travelers.
Our Brave Africa Coronavirus Policy
However, if you are still concerned about traveling to go on safari with Brave Africa during this time, we have put in place a few coronavirus policies to ease your mind.
Postpone Bookings Up to 12 Months Out
If you have booked a safari with Brave Africa or are planning to book a safari with Brave Africa through June 30, 2020, but you are concerned that the coronavirus could affect your travel, we are offering the ability to postpone your booking for up to 12 months. There will be NO penalty to postpone for a later travel date. In this way, you can still plan your safari with us but have the comfort of knowing that you can change your plans as required by the virus.
To postpone your booking:
15 Days Warning: You will need to contact us at least 15 days prior to your arrival in order to postpone without any monetary penalties. We begin purchasing food and other products for your trip at least 15 days out, and so need this time to plan as needed.
Rate Changes Apply: You can postpone your booking and re-plan your trip for any time in the next 12 months. However, if you plan your trip for 2021 or change your trip dates to a different season (you originally booked your trip in low season and now plan to visit us in high season), you will need to pay for the rate change between your original booking date and the new date. This is not a penalty, but simply to cover the cost of your new rates.
If you would like to cancel your booking with Brave Africa completely instead of postponing your trip, our standard cancelation policy applies.
For any questions or concerns about going on safari with Brave Africa during the coronavirus situation, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 1, 2020: Updated information on coronavirus infections and your safari vacation in Botswana.
Disclaimer:We are not doctors, nor are we medical professionals. We are not offering advice or telling you what you should or should not do. If you are at all concerned about your health and safety, you need to do what is best for you and your family. And you should always consult a medical professional with any questions or concerns before planning your safari vacation in Botswana.
That being said, we do want to address traveling with the coronavirus outbreak, including what you need to know about Africa—particularly Botswana. Information is continuing to change at a rapid pace. Every day or two, we are gaining more insight into the COVID-19 pandemic and how it’s affecting Botswana. We will try to keep this post updated weekly, so you have the latest information.
The past two months have been hectic at Brave Africa safari. After our first official safari launch in September, our team hasn’t had a moment to relax. Instead, we’ve focused on building deeper relationships throughout the safari and travel industry, including attending BTTE (Botswana Travel & Tourism Expo).
The great news is that we have an incredible team of individuals who have worked tirelessly to make this possible. They’ve given 1000% of themselves to meet new people, rekindle existing relationships, and introduce Brave Africa as the new ultra-luxury mobile safari to book in 2020 and beyond.
Here’s a little bit about what we’ve been up to during this exciting time behind the scenes with Brave Africa safari.
Giving Back to the Community
Brave Africa’s guides, Wina and Moses, dropping off food items to Safari Destinations.
In November, we had the opportunity to start giving back to the Botswana community. This is a huge piece of who we are and what we believe in. We do not want to be just another safari focused on making money and moving tourists in and out of the country. We want to make a difference not only for the wildlife but also for the Botswanan people.
We plan to do this moving forward by donating $5 a day from every guest’s trip with us to various conservation and community charities. Our team is currently doing extensive research to find the best non-profits to give to, and we’ll have that list available soon. However, we already had the opportunity to help the elderly population in Maun, and we’re so glad we got to participate.
Safari Destinations, one of Botswana’s premier travel agencies, held an annual charity drive to collect needed items for older individuals within the Maun community who require assistance. Our team got together and purchased massive bags of food goods to do our part.
For our Brave Africa safari staff—all of whom are Botswanan natives—taking care of your elders is the responsibility of the community. They shared with us funny stories of being kids and being charged with walking to the store for an elder to purchase their groceries, whether they were related to the individual or knew the individual well or not. Participating in this charity event made a lot of sense and was special to our team.
A Trip to Victoria Falls
Tabona Wina (left) and Moses Teko (right)
The following week in November, our team headed up to Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls to meet with travel agencies throughout the area and start building relationships. This trip was made possible thanks to Shelley Cox at Africa Conservation Travel.
Shelley has been an integral piece of Brave Africa safari since the very beginning. She is a good friend of our owner, Tabona Wina, and has offered our team priceless guidance. We are beyond grateful to her and her company.
Thanks to Shelley’s connections and the hard work of our team, we were able to introduce Brave Africa to other members of the safari industry. We loved getting to share our mission and vision and to tell our story to travel agencies who will help us connect with guests who share our values from around the world.
Building this base of support is critical to our eventual success and helping safari-goers discover us.
Finally, we kicked December off with a bang with Botswana’s largest travel and tourism expo: BTTE. This unique, annual event offers an opportunity for the greater European travel industry to establish relationships and business partnerships with Botswana’s tourism industry. Every safari company, travel agency, and tour operator in Botswana attends this networking event, and we were thrilled to take part!
Held December 2rd – December 6th, in Kasane, #BTTE19 was the event of the year. Over 280 exhibitors, including 140 local operators and 140 international operators from 33 countries around the world participated. Attendees came from all over, including Argentina, United Arab Emirates, Israel, and throughout Europe.
For Brave Africa safari, BTTE was an opportunity to set up a booth where attendees could come up to learn more about who we are and what we offer. We also had a table for a “Business 2 Business” event where attendees had just 15 minutes to meet our team and get to know our product before they moved on. This was an inspiring, educational, and super productive session, where we established many strategic relationships.
Wina & Moses during the brief Business 2 Business sessions
The week-long event included presentations from experts on the Botswana tourism industry as well as the different unique areas of Botswana. There were meet-and-greet sessions, workshops, cocktail dinners, and more. It was an exhausting week, but BTTE was a fantastic opportunity for Brave Africa to establish that we are here as part of the community and proud of it.
Next Up for Brave Africa Safari
In a week, our team will be heading out into the Botswana Bush to explore a possible new Brave Africa safari itinerary—the Kalahari Desert.
This southern route will possibly be available to guests during the rainy season (December – March) when the Okavango Delta is flooded and difficult to navigate. During these months, the Kalahari is in peak season because animals are leaving the floodplains for more semi-arid regions.
Over the last 25 years, 50% of lions have disappeared from the face of the earth. That means that when you watched the original The Lion King in 1994, there were almost twice as many lions in the wild as there are today, says the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN).
How can we change this and start protecting lions and other African wildlife? First, we have to change the conversation.
The current problem is that there is a high cost for people living beside lions, which means they don’t see the value in preserving them. This can make conservationists jobs incredibly difficult. Without a desire for peaceful coexistence, lions and humans will continue to fight for their right to live, and the lions will lose.
According to Amy Dickman, a research fellow at the Oxford Wildlife Conservation and a National Geographic grantee, the solution is to offset the burden or protecting wildlife. She told National Geographic, “If we want lions to exist in 50 years from now in any meaningful way, we need to adjust the costs and benefits so that far more of the benefits accrue at the local level and the costs are borne at the international level.”
Getting Communities Involved
What exactly does this look like? It means recognizing that local communities have a significant role in protecting lions. They have to deal with the challenges associated with living beside lions, elephants, and other dangerous creatures, so we need to provide those communities tangible benefits (rewards) for living with lions.
Provide an incentive not to poach.
Offer a reward for not retaliating against lions after a livestock kill.
Provide compensation to owners to replace livestock or other property harmed by wildlife.
Donating to Conservation
Saving lions also requires money, lots of money. According to a 2018 study, it will require more than one billion dollars annually to save lions in Africa’s protected areas. Currently, there’s only about $381 million a year.
Changing the Political Mindset
Last, but certainly not least, to save the lions, political leaders need to see the value in conserving them. More than just demonstrating how beneficial wildlife is to tourism, politicians need to understand how protecting nature supports job growth, economic development, and more. We need to prove that protecting lions results in cleaner air and water, more carbon storage, and improved overall wellbeing in rural communities.
African Safaris and Conservation
Tourism is a rapidly growing industry. In 2018, more than 42 million people visited sub-Saharan Africa. Many of those tourists go on safari.
Now, some people believe that safaris can’t possibly be okay. After all, shouldn’t animals be kept away from tourists and vice versa? But that’s preservation, not conservation. If you put animals into a box to keep them safe, you’re not doing what you can to maintain habitats and change mindsets, but that’s what African safaris can do.
Responsible wildlife safaris encourage people, communities, and political leaders to save the natural environment. By bringing money into countries through wildlife tourism, you’re demonstrating that it’s more valuable to keep animals alive and thriving. You’re making animals a valuable commodity, and money speaks.
More Revenue from Conservation Safaris = Less from Illegal Activities
While it’s difficult to prove a definitive link between a drop in tourists and a rise in poaching, there’s definitely a link between the two. Tourists help protect wildlife from their sheer presence. The revenue they bring in also makes a big difference.
Mark Butcher of Imvelo Safaris told The Guardian, “When people are hungry, they don’t worry about conservation. The wildlife gets left in the care of poorly motivated and ill-equipped bureaucrats.” Basically, when tourists bring money into communities, and people can afford to live well, they don’t have to resort to illegal activities to survive.
For example, in Kenya between 1977 and 1983, visitors dropped by 70,000 a year. The loss in revenue resulted in a 60% decline in anti-poaching patrols. During that time, rhinos practically disappeared, elephant numbers plummeted, and meat poaching was bigger than ever.
The Surprising Power of Safari Photos
Maybe the most surprising power of a safari to aid in conservation is using your photos to track wildlife. Your pictures, when shared on social media can help experts track illegal wildlife trading, demonstrate which areas are most often visited by tourists, and more.
According to a recent study in Botswana, when safari tourists were asked to provide their photographs to help with conservation, they were able to estimate the densities of lions, spotted hyenas, leopards, African wild dogs, and cheetahs. The results were similar to a professional tracking survey and far more affordable.
The reality is that tourists take thousands of photos every day, and those photos can help create statistical models and provide valuable data for conservation.
Brave Africa and Conservation
Finally, African safaris can make a major difference in conservation if you choose the right operator. There are many great safari operators who give back to communities, respect wildlife, and donate to various conservation efforts. At Brave Africa, we’re also doing our part.
Though we are just barely getting started, we’re already thinking about how we can help keep Botswana pristine.
We believe that giving back to the community where we operate and taking care of our employees will make the largest difference in conservation. After all, if they live well and feel like they are a part of something valuable, then they’ll take that back home.
As part of that, one of our principal owners is Tabona Wina, a native Botswanan. Wina is the heart and soul of Brave Africa. It’s his knowledge of the Bush and creating a memorable safari experience that makes us who we are. We are one of the few safari companies who have an owner who lives in the community where we operate.
As for the rest of our employees, our goal is to be a company where they love to work. We want to be the premier employer in Botswana because we’re known for taking care of our employees in regards to compensation, benefits, and work environment.
At Brave Africa, we’re also putting our money where our mouth is ($5 a day for every guest).
$50 from every 10-Day/9-Night itinerary will be donated to conservation efforts.
$35 from every 7-Day/6-Night itinerary will be donated to conservation efforts.
As we said in a previous blog about Elephant conservation, we’re donating a portion of the proceeds from every guest’s stay with us to Elephants Without Borders, but that’s just the start. We also have plans to give to other charitable organizations that are all focused on conserving wildlife and nature. While we haven’t chosen what other organizations we’ll give to—more research is needed—our goal is to find nonprofits and charities that are doing great work and making a big difference.
We’ll keep you updated as we choose our charities, and we welcome your feedback. If there’s an organization that you feel is doing great work, let us know.
We love Botswana. It’s an amazing country that’s had a huge focus on conservation and protecting wildlife. Unfortunately, over the last few months, Botswana has been in the news for all the wrong reasons—mainly for Botswana’s elephants and lifting the hunting ban.
The news was as depressing as the National Geographic article about elephants in Thailand. It broke our hearts and the hearts of millions of conservationists around the world.
The question now is, “What happens next?”
Elephant Hunting in Botswana
Botswana is home to more than 130,000 elephants—one-third of Africa’s remaining population and more elephants than anywhere else on the continent by almost double. It makes going on safari in Botswana a fantastic experience. You can’t turn around without running into a herd of elephants, and considering how amazing they are, there couldn’t be anything better.
But now that pristine wilderness is in jeopardy.
Originally imposed in 2014, the goal of the hunting ban was to help declining numbers due to poaching and shrinking habitats. It worked wonderfully. The population boomed, and Botswana was ranked the best country for conservation in the world, according to Lonely Planet.
Then, increasing conflict between humans and elephants started to occur. At the same time, Botswana elected a new president who had a very different viewpoint on conservation in Botswana. So, when the five-year hunting ban reached the end of its life, the Botswana government decided not to renew.
Suddenly, Botswana—the country with conservation in its DNA—turned into just one more country that doesn’t seem to care about its wildlife (Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa all allow big game hunting as well).
So, what now? Should you refuse to go on safari in Botswana to teach the government a lesson in conservation? That’s what many celebrities have argued for including Ellen DeGeneres, and we can’t blame them.
Money speaks and saying that you’ll take away your money from Botswana until they put the hunting ban back in place, at the outset, seems like the right move. After all, if they lose tourism dollars, won’t that make them change their minds about saving Botswana’s elephants? We argue that just the opposite could happen.
Safaris are now more critical than ever!
If conservation-focused tourism dollars go down, that could make the government more willing to encourage hunting dollars to make up for the loss.
Safaris VS Hunting: One Has to Win
The reality is that what makes money is what survives. Right now, there’s a debate between what’s worth more for Botswana: hunting licenses or tourism dollars? These two avenues are in direct opposition to each other, so in the long term, only one can win, and we want it to be tourism.
Currently, tourism generates more jobs and revenue than hunting, but if you decide to not go on safari in protest of hunting, that could change. It could show that tourism isn’t as economically powerful as the government thought, and so hunting could become even more financially valuable.
Instead, we need to continue to prove that safaris are the far better choice for everyone and that that safaris and hunting cannot coexist. The government needs to choose the better option—to save Botswana’s elephants.
In an ideal world, it should be enough to say that protecting elephants is the right thing to do, but that’s not an argument that typically wins. Governments and big business only listen to one thing—money.
They ignore the fact that elephants are highly intelligent creatures that are aware of the world around them and their family. They overlook the stress that elephants undergo when one of their own is killed. They ignore that hunting is an outdated practice that should have no place in today’s world. What they don’t ignore is the bottom line.
So, although you can make countless arguments for preserving wildlife, saying that it’s better for our environment, better for future generations, and kinder, that’s not what will stop hunting. What will stop hunting is showing that not only is it not worth the money but that it actually hurts the amount of money they can bring in.
Fighting for Botswana’s Elephant
To do this, we have to continue to show that tourism safaris, which protect the environment and are kind to the animals, are the way to go. With our money, we have to demonstrate that it’s essential to keep elephants around, to continue to ban the ivory trade, to be harsh to poachers. The only way to have an impact is to spend your money on the activities (such as a Brave Africa safari) and items that you want to see more of.
It’s how we’re fighting back.
We’re also fighting for elephant conservation by donating a portion of the proceeds from every guest’s stay with us to Elephants Without Borders, a charitable organization dedicated to conserving wildlife and natural resources. They perform research, census, rescue, and education all focused on conserving Botswana’s amazing wildlife. Their goal is to change people’s perceptions in the community and on a national level with regards to the value of wildlife and managing relationships between humans and wild animals.
It’s just one more small way going on safari can help Botswana’s elephants.