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Tanzania safari companies - behavior around animals

A S
San Francisco...
2 posts
2 reviews
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Tanzania safari companies - behavior around animals

Hello,

I was going to post this under a number of different safari companies, but I thought it might be more efficient this way. There are a lot of companies out there and it is difficult to choose one. Ethical treatment of workers is one issues, about which there seem to be several forums here. Another issue is animal harassment, and driving behavior around the wildlife. While some may seek to get as close as possible to the animals, 1) it is worse for their well being in the long run, and 2) you will get a better experience if you see the animals behaving naturally... and if they come close to you on their own it is better. Believe me, we went with an ethical guide who was not harassing the animals, and we still saw some AMAZING things, and at close range.

I'm not posting our company here, as I don't want to be seen as someone who's trying to get business for them. I'm just trying to bring the issue to light -- I saw some very aggressive driving on our trip, especially in the Ndutu region where trucks can go off road. Chasing animals, separating cubs from their mothers, etc. Below is the post I wrote -- please take these issues into account when choosing a company. It's unbelievable no matter what there -- don't leave feeling guilty that you harassed animals in order to get your experience.

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We spent several days on safari in the Ndutu region in February of 2013. We are biologists and have a lot of experience observing animals in the wild and interpreting their behavior. Over the course of our trip we took note of the way different tour companies drove around the animals, whether they gave them appropriate space, minimized engine noise, minimized movements during behavioral interactions, etc. Below is a summary. I'm putting this same description for all the companies mentioned, so that those evaluating them can have some options and see the variety for context. **Note that all I had to go on in some cases was the name written on the truck.

Kibo Safari Tours: BAD. We were waiting for a leopard in the grass for about four hours one day, and had we not been positioned in front of where it was (accidentally), they would have driven through the grass to find it, even though they didn't know where it was (they actually asked us to move). They could have run it over.

Corto Safari: BAD. Same example as above.

Across Safaris: BAD. Same example as above, except that they actually pushed past us and drove into the grass, blindly. Luckily, I don't think their impatient tourists actually saw the leopard.

Grumeti Expeditions: BAD. We saw at one of the rest stops that their guide was carrying a giant knife. Our guide told us this was common, that many guides actually hunt when possible.

Leopard Tours: BAD. This was one of the most commonly seen companies out there -- big business, lots of trucks. Lots of driving around quickly, not spending much time with any one group. Some colleagues told us they have a bad reputation amongst wildlife biologists in the area. We were also told that they do not treat their staff or guides well at all. We saw evidence of this during our stay at Kuhama Camp (see separate review).

Roy Safaris: BAD. This was the worst company of all that we saw. General irresponsible behavior and driving on several occasions. Also during the leopard encounter above they drove through the grass to see the leopard. The guide was loud and rude, and said things to visibly upset our guide (though we couldn't understand it), as well as making rude and inflammatory remarks to me personally. His guests were from the United States, so I tried to explain our concerns to them, and they said they did not agree with the guide's actions and they had not asked him to drive so aggressively.

Beyond Safaris: GOOD. This company had a good reputation amongst our colleagues and when we saw them in the field, they were usually behaving responsibly around the animals.

Kuro Tours: GOOD. When we saw them, they showed good, responsible driving.

Easy Travel & Tours Ltd
Safaris, Nature & Wildlife Tours, Cultural Tours
Gosheni Safaris Africa
Safaris, Nature & Wildlife Tours
Shadows of Africa
Private Tours, Cultural Tours, Safaris, Day Trips, Nature & Wildlife Tours
Isle of Man, United...
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1. Re: Tanzania safari companies - behavior around animals

Welcome to Trip Advisor. I am not sure how long your post will remain before being zapped but I can say that I support your argument and in many cases your observations.

There is no doubt that behaviour has deteriorated markedly over the last few years as more people come to Serengeti for certain sightings and will go to any lengths to achieve their objectives.

The remedy is of course in the hands of the client as your comment on Roys made clear. IF you don't approve of your driver's behaviour, tell him firmly not to do it and that his tip will reflect his behaviour. BUT there remains the nagging doubt that those particular clients were simply saying they did not approve when all the time they did.

But the remedy is in the clients hands every time. Say NO to this sort of behaviour.

Sydney
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195 posts
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2. Re: Tanzania safari companies - behavior around animals

Hi A S

You make some good observations. You posting here will pass quickly into oblivion. Could I suggest if you can spare the short time it will take to post individual reviews, that you go to this link and post your individual observations where it will be specifically related to the company you mention.

tripadvisor.com.au/Attractions-g297913-Activ…

This will ensure that when people are choosing a safari operator they will read both the good and bad reviews and make a value judgement based on these comments

Lancaster
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3. Re: Tanzania safari companies - behavior around animals

This is extremely disturbing, given that we've booked with Roy Safaris! Could not condone reckless driving at any level, I'll take this further. Thank you for giving us the heads up...

Ottawa, Canada
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4. Re: Tanzania safari companies - behavior around animals

Thanks for the heads up. One challenge is that for new safari travelers, many people don't know what the etiquette is around animals and we rely on our drivers to be ethical and fair.

Over time on forums such as these, we learn that there are rules (such as how many cars to be in a group) that are routinely ignored and flaunted. That the 6 hour Crater rule may or may not apply, and many vagarities. That off roading is not allowed in many places.

One thing that also comes up on this forum is the question of traveler ethics. There are always those who push their drivers to break the rules with threats of no tips, or reporting to TO. The 'BAD' goes both ways.

This gives us a short list of observations you made - due to your expertise about appropriate behavior around animals. Thanks for the contribution.

I wonder if you would confirm the name of the company Kibo Safari Tours. There are several companies listed with TATO which have the word KIBO in their name, but I cannot find one by this exact name. You can appreciate that providing an incorrect name might give a company a bad reputation, when it really doesn't apply. Please see if you can double check that.

Also, there used to be a 'wall of shame' at the Tanzania Tourist Bureau in Arusha where folks could post photos of vehicles exhibiting bad behaviour. Though most of us don't arrive in Arusha until after we are booked, it might be an education to view that wall.

Isle of Man, United...
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5. Re: Tanzania safari companies - behavior around animals

The problem is manifold. How many visitors actually care as long as they have a great Safari?

How many Visitors actually visit Trip Advisor? Unless they do they remain oblivious to our posts.

Park Rules are clearly printed on the Entry permit. How many ever get to read that? "It's just a piece of bureaucracy handled by the driver!"

And the perpetual untruth about Off roading in NCA? It is not permitted there any more than it is in National Parks.

Viz.

Rules for Vehicles

##Keep to authorized roads and tracks. No off-road driving

##Speed limits 25km/h in NCA

##No more than 5 vehicles around an animal or kill.

There is just no excuse for bad behaviour but until TANAPA and NCAA practice zero tolerance to breaches it will continue.

Washington DC...
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6. Re: Tanzania safari companies - behavior around animals

Harassing animals is a problem, one that needs to be minimized if not eradicated. We are all in agreement on that, I hope.

I must say though that I'm seriously disappointed (for lack of a better word), to see this type of post. I have no idea who has posted this, whether there is an agenda, or whether it's accurate. I do know that for scientists to reach damning conclusions ('bad', 'worst') on the basis of a single observation or limited observations would be considered irresponsible in their field. Some of the observations posted here might reflect repeat offenders: great; what about observations that get it wrong: does anyone give a whit about the negative and undeserved effect on the named companies?

I recently came across this letter from an inn operator in S. Africa, who does a nice job of noting his exasperation with being vilified on the net. Many here have probably read similar complaints from operators regarding tripadvisor, but I think it's still worth a quick read.

www.travelbuyer.co.za/NewsDetails.aspx…

Sue me, I'm a Libra.

Ottawa, Canada
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7. Re: Tanzania safari companies - behavior around animals

« does anyone give a whit about the negative and undeserved effect on the named companies?» Yes, people do. If you are a repeat client with a relationship with the company, and you have recommended them, then some will. If it is a missnamed company, it should be clarified, as people like I will be wondering just which KIBO company they are alluding to. I care about a number of people in Africa, their reputations and livelihoods.

Isle of Man, United...
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8. Re: Tanzania safari companies - behavior around animals

Steve,

Lovely. I too wondered at the unscientific nature of these biologists. I even ventured that I thought the post may get moderated to oblivion for obvious reasons. However the poster does have a point and the matter of bad behaviour should be brought to the fore at every opportunity.

That was a lovely article. I have seen its like in other media and indeed I understand British TV ran a documentary on the matter last year. I have a modicum of sympathy with the problem and we only have to examine some vicious posts on here to know why.

I am not going to debate whether Trip Advisor "Reviews" are a good thing or not. Disgruntled Hoteliers do have a right to reply and can be very forthright when they do. All power to their elbows if it helps sieve out the Cyber blackmailer and vicious posters. They also have the opportunity of contacting the reviewer to seek background to specifics. As you will guess, I would have loved to have had the opportunity to reply to that article.

Airlines get slated, Tour Operators get slated, Restaurants get slated. Why are Hoteliers such sensitive souls? We, the public, are quite capable of sussing out unjust reviews. On here we usually turn IAB loose on them!

Sue me too. My Lawyer is bigger than their Lawyer. (LoL)

Edited: 02 December 2013, 22:24
Nashville, Tennessee
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9. Re: Tanzania safari companies - behavior around animals

I read this post earlier and waited to reply. Animal harassment is an issue in many places, parks and countries. Zero tolerance is the answer. Punish anyone caught with a 10 fold punishment to make an example to the 100 that weren't caught.

However, this is a bet irresponsible post. From one set if eyes, drastic conclusions are stated. As Steve said, in their own field this type of conclusion would be discredited. But, we are supposed to take this novice posters as experts based on self proclaimed credentials and unverified observations.

Post on animal harassment and bad behavior but don't draw such far reaching and damaging conclusions. For all we know, you work for one of the good companies listed or have no idea about true animal harassment.

Sorry, I call it like I see it. Good topic, bad post

melbourne
Destination Expert
for Tanzania
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10. Re: Tanzania safari companies - behavior around animals

I also read this post when it was first posted and didn't then want to reply. Out of the 200 companies thereabouts operating in Arusha why only mention 8......did the op only see these 8 in the areas where he was.

I agree strongly with the sentiments of bad behavior by guides as expressed. But I also strongly disagree with the naming of the companies and wonder how many vehicles and guides of these companies were seen. Leopard Tours have over 200 vehicles and I wonder at the sample used to assert they are all Bad. I know a guide who has worked at Leopard for 20 years he for one would never tolerate the bad behavior his company has been branded with.

I did also wonder if the op was in fact representing one of the companies mentioned.