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Tanzania safari companies - behavior around animals

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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
Newark, Delaware
Level Contributor
1,152 posts
3 reviews
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31. Re: Tanzania safari companies - behavior around animals

Just to correct one point above. Guides are not required to be licensed in Tanzania, as there is no such license or test to be a guide. The guide is simply required to show an ID card issued by the company he is employed with. And if he does not have the card he is still allowed to enter the park, but he must pay an extra 10.000 TZS (about $7). This is a particular messy subject when it comes to even more complicated things like Kilimanjaro Treks where the guides should have be required to show some technical abilities as they are taking people to a limit that could become life threatening.

I do think guides should be required to pass tests to be licensed and if they are caught doing something against the rules the licenses should be taken. The only place in East Africa that I am aware this happens is Mt. Kenya. But again a good portion of those that hold drivers licenses never took an exam, they simply bought it. So would such a system actually work?

Edited: 23 December 2013, 19:41
32. Re: Tanzania safari companies - behavior around animals

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