Sunway’s responsible touring and environmental awareness policy applies to everyone travelling with us and allows us to experience the lands we are visiting but also have a positive influence on the communities and ultimately the natural environment of Southern Africa. Our tour leaders will help you with the implementation of these policies, many of which will seem like common sense.
SOS CHILDREN - EDUCATIONAL RESPONSIBILITY
Sunway operates a number of tours into the National Parks of South Africa for underprivileged children from the SOS childrens village based in Johannesburg, South Africa. SOS Children's Villages is an independent, non-governmental and social development organisation. Its activities focus on neglected and abandoned children and orphans, as well as disadvantaged families.
We try to run these tours as often as possible during the course of a year.
SOS - SAVE OUR SAUSAGE TREES - BOTSWANA
The MOKORO is the traditional means of transport for the people of the Okavango Delta in Botswana. For the adventure seeker, gliding through the Okavango Delta in a mokoro with a local guide, is the essence of the Okavango experience. Slipping silently through the water as you explore the maze of shallow waterways watching out for wildlife and marveling at the birdlife.
But behind this serene experience there lies a disturbing environmental impact. With the increase in tourism to Botswana over the last 20 years the number of mekoro polers earning a living from tourism has increased. This has been beneficial to the communities living within the Okavango Delta and by 2009 there are estimated to be over 2000 mokoros in the Okavango region. Each mokoro is cut from a single mature Kigelia Africana tree (Sausage Tree).
The root of the problem is that a wooden mekoro lasts perhaps only 5 years before it rots and falls apart. Therefore to build new mekoro, roughly 400 trees must be felled each year and there just aren’t enough trees to sustain this.
The local communities of the Okavango are aware of the problem – largely because they now struggle to find trees big enough for mekoro. Each year we have witnessed smaller new mekoros (meaning younger trees are cut down) and old mekoro being used beyond their reasonable life (meaning leaks and multiple plastic patches).
The community have agreed to stop harvesting trees in the Ditsipi village area and are therefore buying wooden mekoro from other parts of the delta.
In the Okavango the number of Sausage Trees cut down each year to build new wooden mekoros is not sustainable. The solution to this environmental issue is to use fiberglass mekoro. Sunway has consulted with the community and they have agreed that should a poler buy a fiberglass mokoro, then the poler will pay 50% of the cost and Sunway the other 50%.
HOW YOU CAN HELP?
Sunway, through our Botswana operating company Planet Okavango, has set up a fund to assist polers to buy fiberglass mekoros and help protect their natural environment.
This is a Sunway responsible tourism initiative – please help us conserve this amazing place!
Sunway is assisting a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Springs, outside Johannesburg. Judy Davidson runs a licensed rehab centre from a small holding. She is an amazing person, dedicating her life to the welfare of animals and makes enormous personal sacrifices to live on this plot and care for sick and injured birds. A variety of birds are cared for, from injured barbets, doves, and crows to a brown snake eagle, a gymnogene, and a spotted eagle owl.
Sunway assists the project with donations of practical equipment including shade netting, paint, ruststop, brushes and cable ties. These will be used to repair and maintain several of the exisiting aviaries. We have also supplied other needed equipment such as a high pressure hose for cleaning aviaries.
While on tour – general:
- Cooking on gas when feasible so that we don’t have to burn firewood which depletes limited resources (particularly in desert environments).
- Requesting clients to purchase small wooden carvings curio instead of large pieces, again to conserve the forests around the carving markets.
- Ensuring that we take all of our rubbish out of wilderness areas and use proper waste disposal facilities on all tours (and in the workshop).
We support the local community outside Mkuzi Game Reserve in KwaZulu Natal by employing local guides for a village visit. This provides a truly authentic experience but also fosters a better relationship between the park, it’s visitors and the surrounding community (gain direct value from our visits as well as a portion of our camping fees.
- Zulu traditional village in St Lucia, a World Heritage site.
- Xhosa village on South Africas Wild Coast. As above this provides a truly authentic Xhosa cultural experience but also fosters a better relationship between local communities, tourists and tourism establishments.
- Cape Maclear in Malawi, where we use local boatmen to provide our snorkeling excursions.
Employment of local guides
Wherever possible – this provides direct revenues into the communities in the areas we visit, thus ensuring that local people gain benefits from Sunway visits to their areas.
The employment of local guide adds value to your visit because you can gain specific local knowledge and expertise from the people who actually live permanently in the area you are visiting. These people live in these areas and have exceptional local knowledge about the wildlife in those areas.
Below are a few examples of where we use local guides:
- Mkuzi village KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
- Okavango Delta polers trust, Botswana
- Botswana local national park guides, Botswana
- South Luangwa local walking and night game drive guides, Zambia
- Lower Zambezi river safari and rafting river guides, Zambia Hlane walking guides, Swailand San rock art guides, Brandberg Namibia
- San game walk guides, Kalahari Botswana
- Chobe River cruise guides, Botswana
- Cape Maclear local activity guides, Malawi
- Benguerra Island local dhow guides, Mozambique
Accommodation and Campsites
Sunway tries to book accommodation that is locally owned and involved in local responsible tourism initiatives. As at November 2007 we’re in the process of auditing all establishments we book to determine levels of commitment to community upliftment projects in their area. Campsites used are either locally owned, or a percentage of their income goes towards, schooling, or nature conservation & community projects.
All entrance fees go directly to the maintenance of National Parks of places of interest
Entrance fees help with nature conservation practices and anti-poaching activities
These local initiatives help to maintain local cultures and also sustain the ideals of wildlife conservation. Tourism, goodwill and conservation all work together and Sunway aims to maintain the delicate balance at all times!