Giving something back
The first thing to do if you want to help protect Botswana’s wilder areas is to travel there, often; the income generated by tourism is the main hope to enable these areas to survive and thrive in the long term.
Botswana is one of the richer of the developing nations, but despite this you may see scenes of poverty when you are visiting the country, especially in more rural areas. Beggars are fairly rare in the towns, but often the least able are dependent on charity. Whilst giving a few coins to people is one way to put a sticking plaster over your feelings of guilt, this is not a long-term solution. Similarly, although the visitor on an expensive safari is making a financial contribution to development and conservation in Botswana, he or she can do a lot more to help.
Travelling to Botswana’s wilder areas helps to protect them © Chris Erasmus, Shutterstock
The first thing to do if you want to help protect Botswana’s wilder areas is to travel there, often; the income generated by tourism is the main hope to enable these areas to survive and thrive in the long term, and this in turn will make a positive contribution to conservation. Many safari operators have programmes to help their local communities, having recognised that the mass of Botswana’s people must benefit more (and more directly) from tourism if conservation is going to be successful in Botswana.
The second thing you can do is to support organisations such as those initiated by your tour operator which work in promoting knowledge of Botswana’s wilder areas, in campaigning for environmental and social issues, and in research and conservation.
Helping poorer and disadvantaged communities
There are ways in which you can make a positive contribution, but they require more effort than giving to someone on the street; perhaps this is the least you can do after an enjoyable trip to Botswana?
There is an established, trustworthy and reliable network of charities, churches and NGOs (non-governmental organisations). If you really want to help, then contact someone and make it happen! Botswana has a whole range of good, small charities working at grassroots level to improve the lot of the poorest members of society here, and help them to develop economically.
Botswana, like many African countries, hasn’t been slow to take advantage of the upsurge in volunteering holidays. Despite this, there are many pitfalls for unwary volunteers, so be sure to do your homework – especially if you are trying to get involved with a local community. Both Bana Ba Letsatsi and Love Botswana have volunteer programmes, and it could well be worth contacting Travel for Impact for other ideas.