Our Wildlife Code of Conduct

Written by Thomson Safaris
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The wildebeest have thundered across Tanzania’s plains for millennia. Its ancient baobab trees budded through soil and dust thousands of years ago. From the lion to the dik-dik, its animals have persevered through wildfires, droughts and other threats for the entirety of human history – and likely much longer.

Unlike the game reserves that bring wildlife into man-made enclosures, the national parks of Tanzania protect the animals where they have always been. If we take great care, the ecosystem will thrive just as it has for countless years.

Wildlife preservation has been a pillar of our work for nearly four decades, winning recognition from the Tanzania Tourist Board and partnerships with some of the world’s leading wildlife conservation groups.

We codified the best way to protect the animals we view every day. Every guide follows a set of rules to ensure the wildlife is preserved and our guests are safe. Here are just a few.

Our Wildlife Code of Conduct

1. Never feed the animals

Tanzania’s wild animals aren’t used to receiving food from people, and this is a good thing. Their survival hinges on their ability to find food themselves. Receiving food from humans can build a dangerous dependency.

Ultimately, when you’re working with apex predators, sometimes it’s best not to associate humans with food.

2. Animals always have the right of way

Unobtrusive, unthreatening, uninteresting – that’s what animals should think of safari vehicles. This way, when a lion sees a Land Rover, they don’t see a potential threat and change their behavior. They see an unassuming four-wheeled contraption and go about their business – it’s as if we’re not even there.

Aggressive driving can break the illusion, so we give animals the right of way to leave them undisturbed and make your safari better at the same time.

3. Never disturb or harass the wildlife

See rule two. The less we interact with the wildlife, the less we impact the ecosystem. That means no imitating animal sounds, making loud noises or throwing objects.

4. Do not litter

Need we say more?

5. Never pick, cut or destroy any vegetation

This is particularly important for camp staff. We want the accommodations to have the lowest possible impact on the land. That’s one reason we choose tented camps. They don’t interfere with nature; they blend right in.

Case in point, animals aren’t shy around the camp grounds like they are around established lodges. You’ll wake up to the sound of grazing zebras and see tracks going right through the grounds. That’s what traveling in harmony with nature looks like.

6. Do not touch or remove any object of biological interest, including eggs, bones or trophies

In case there were any doubts, we do not condone the hunt or capture of any of Tanzania’s creatures. We have been vocal opponents to game hunting and trophy trafficking in Africa and our home state of Massachusetts.

7. Remain in the vehicle within 200 meters of any game animal

There’s always a limit to how close you can get to Africa’s animals and for good reason. Dangerous interactions with humans can justify lethal force against the wildlife – a circumstance we want to avoid at all costs.

We have operated for nearly four decades without any incident between guests and wildlife, largely because of the tenured judgment of our guides and hard and fast rules like these. You’ll get close to the lions, but we’ll always consider your safety first.

8. Avoid organizations that restrain, subdue or train wildlife for commercial purposes

You might have seen game reserves where guests ride elephants, pet lions or experience other canned wildlife interactions. The sad truth is that many of these entities do not treat wildlife well.

Elephants must be restrained and trained for years to carry riders. Organizations that host lion walks often breed and sell lions to game hunting groups.

These incredible creatures belong in the wild. Wildlife sanctuaries should only operate with the intention of protecting, rehabilitating and releasing the species they serve, and those are the only groups we’re willing to work with.

 

Want to know more? Visit our African Wildlife Foundation page to learn how we partner with conservation organizations to benefit the lands, wildlife and people of Tanzania.