Jour­nal

If you love wild an­i­mals and de­spise the idea of tro­phy hunt­ing, Charles ven Ren­burg is your friend

AugustMan (Malaysia) - - Primer - WORDS BY JU­LIANA CHAN PHO­TOS BY ALISA BOWEN & C CUL­BERT

Gen­eral man­ager of Wilder­ness Sa­faris Charles ven Ren­burg shares the com­pany’s Travel With Pur­pose itin­er­ar­ies

I HAVE A SE­CRET am­bi­tion, which is to be a wildlife pho­tog­ra­pher go­ing into the un­known to cap­ture wild an­i­mals in im­ages and mak­ing an ad­ven­ture of it. Wish­ful think­ing per­haps, but there is a way to make the best part of that dream come true with eco­tourism spe­cial­ist Wilder­ness Sa­faris. Gen­eral man­ager Charles ven Ren­burg was in Sin­ga­pore re­cently to tell us about the com­pany’s Travel With Pur­pose itin­er­ar­ies, and its con­ser­va­tion and com­mu­nity build­ing ef­forts across Africa.

What’s the first thing peo­ple ought to know about go­ing into the African wilder­ness?

That it’s not a pet­ting zoo nor a theme park ride, and the an­i­mals are not there for your en­ter­tain­ment. You have to go in with re­spect be­cause it’s their ter­ri­tory. Un­for­tu­nately there are those who think the fees they pay en­ti­tle them to pose with wild an­i­mals with­out risk of life or limb, with griev­ous con­se­quences. Our guides brief our guests thor­oughly and are alert to any po­ten­tial dan­ger be­cause they are ex­pe­ri­enced in read­ing an­i­mal body lan­guage and moods. Even so, wild an­i­mals can al­ways be un­pre­dictable and dan­ger­ous.

So which are the most dan­ger­ous an­i­mals out there? You may be sur­prised but they aren’t al­ways

those with sharp teeth and claws. Herds of buf­falo, ele­phants and hip­pos can be hard to read. One of the dead­li­est is re­ally quite small: the mos­quito. So it’s best to get your malaria shots be­fore you come.

We’ve seen hor­rific pic­tures of peo­ple hunt­ing an­i­mals for spo on so­cial me­dia. Is enough be­ing done by the au­thor­i­ties to curb big game hunt­ing? This is a rather con­tro­ver­sial topic. We def­i­nitely dis­agree with tro­phy hunt­ing. It’s a big no-no be­cause it is ir­re­spon­si­ble and dis­rupts the gene pool of some of the most en­dan­gered species and com­mu­ni­ties of an­i­mals. Hunt­ing is il­le­gal in the na­tional parks, but in some of the buf­fer re­gions of Africa that are not des­ig­nated for agri­cul­ture, hunt­ing can ac­tu­ally be good for the land as part of game man­age­ment strate­gies and pro­vid­ing an in­come to a pop­u­la­tion that would oth­er­wise have no other means of ek­ing out a liv­ing. It is first about food and liveli­hood se­cu­rity for the peo­ple who live in th­ese ar­eas.

Tell us about Wilder­ness Sa­faris’ Travel With A Pur­pose itin­er­ar­ies.

Our vi­sion is to con­serve and re­store Africa’s wilder­ness and wildlife by cre­at­ing lifechang­ing jour­neys and in­spir­ing pos­i­tive ac­tion. We op­er­ate camps and sa­faris across eight coun­tries, in­clud­ing Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, Zam­bia, Zim­babwe and South Africa. Recog­nis­ing that con­ser­va­tion is as much about peo­ple as it is about the the en­vi­ron­ment, our op­er­a­tions and work ethics are guided by a Four Cs strat­egy ‒ Com­merce, Con­ser­va­tion, Com­mu­nity and Cul­ture. This year, we cel­e­brate our 35th an­niver­sary by of­fer­ing a slew of spe­cial itin­er­ar­ies. With­out giv­ing too much away, I’d like to share with you that many of our clients have found them­selves and their views and at­ti­tudes to­wards life trans­formed by our jour­neys. And they keep com­ing back with us to learn more about this mys­te­ri­ous and won­der­ful con­ti­nent. AM

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