Luxury travel company andBeyond has partnered with the School of Wildlife Conservation at the African Leadership University (ALU) to launch the WILDeconomy Masterclass, a six-day educational journey hosted at andBeyond’s lodges in Tanzania and Kenya that examines the role of the wildlife economy in Africa.  

“There has long been a growing awareness of the role that tourism and conservation play in the economy of many  African countries,” says andBeyond Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Nicole Robinson. “However, what became blatantly  obvious during the peak of the Covid pandemic is that the resilience of conservation is compromised when we rely  on a single activity such as tourism to drive economic benefits for communities and governments.” 

For more than 30 years, andBeyond’s business model has been based on the premise that, in order for conservation to be successful and sustainable, it has to benefit the communities that surround Africa’s wildlife reserves. The company now aims to draw attention to the fact that there are far more activities than just tourism that need to be understood in order to create a successful and balanced wildlife economy.  

An ALU team headed by Dr Sue Snyman, the Director of Research at the university’s School of Wildlife, released a  report on the state of the wildlife economy in Africa as recently as 2020. Available here for viewing or download,  the paper provides an overview of the current status of the wildlife economy and includes data from as many  African countries as possible. The research is focussed on five economic activities, which also form the heart of the  WILDeconomy Masterclass: 

∙ Ecotourism 

∙ Hunting and fishing 

∙ Carbon markets 

∙ Forest products 

∙ Game ranching 

Photo Credit: andBeyond

“As an organisation deeply rooted in Africa, we feel that it is our responsibility to draw awareness to these five wildlife-based economic activities,” explains Robinson. “With international travellers growing increasingly more concerned about sustainable travel and the economic development of the destinations that they travel to, we felt the time was right to create an itinerary that would explore the broader context of how wildlife can contribute just as much as other resources, such as human capital, oil and gas, to Africa’s economy and, by consequence, to the protection and conservation of its natural assets. In this way, we hope to get our guests, many of whom are  influential in their respective fields, to start understanding, educating others about and advocating for the  potential of Africa’s wildlife economy.” 

Hosted by Dr Snyman, the Masterclass includes three nights at andBeyond Grumeti Serengeti River Lodge in Tanzania,  as well as two nights at andBeyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp in Kenya’s Masai Mara. In addition to a full complement of game drives and walks, the itinerary also features plenty of opportunities for thoughtful discussion,  a complete set of educational resources and a range of interactive experiences. An example is a trip to Tanzania’s Lake Victoria hosted by andBeyond’s community partner, Africa Foundation, during which travellers have the opportunity to better understand the economic impact of fishing on the lake’s surrounding Lukungu community.  

Some of the questions addressed during the Masterclass include the role of tourism in a post-Covid world and how the tourism sector can be made more resilient, as well as more controversial topics such as hunting and whether wildlife should be assigned a monetary value. Attendees will also seek to understand the importance of carbon markets and how the Western world’s commitments to net zero are providing further economic opportunities. 

“We don’t claim to have all, or even most of, the answers to the questions that we pose. However, it is our hope that, by stimulating discussion of these topics, we can come to a greater understanding of the economic potential of Africa’s wild places, and how the wild economy can sustainably conserve and protect these places for generations to come,” concludes Robinson.  

The WILDeconomy Masterclass in partnership with African Leadership University is available for bookings from 2023.

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Editor Africa Beat

Africa Beat is the source of all your news and updates in the travel industry out of Africa. You will find also find reviews and features focused on Africa.

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