Exclusive Interview: Simon King, East Africa Safari and Touring Company (EASTCO)
Founded in 2004, the World Responsible Tourism Awards allow people the chance to celebrate the heroes and share the stories of the most exciting and enduring responsible tourism experiences in the world.
EASTCO just won the silver award for “Best contribution to wildlife conservation”
The Best contribution to wildlife conservation category is awarded to a tourism business or initiative that had measurable success in preserving and managing habitat and wildlife species. The focus of Best contribution to wildlife conservation is on holiday providers, whether tour operators, accommodations or conservation organisations, which have, through tourism, achieved measurable wildlife and/or habitat conservation objectives. Initiatives might include wildlife watching experiences, nature trails, places to stay or other holidays which otherwise benefit wildlife and habitats. What the Judges wanted was integration of great holiday experiences with progressive and sustainable programmes in wildlife and habitat conservation, measures of success and ideas which can be adapted and developed by tourism providers around the world.
The East African Safari and Touring Company (EASTCO) is a private Tanzanian Company owned by a Tanzanian/Australian family living in Arusha Tanzania. It was established in 1992 by Simon King.
EASTCO is a small operation offering private safaris throughout East Africa and they run their own fleet of 4wd safari vehicles. They usually offer safaris combining the traditional parks with visits to areas of natural beauty, cultural or wildlife significance outside the national parks. They try and emphasise that safari is a journey, a journey to experience all of what Africa has to offer. Respectfully and responsibly.
In the early 1990’s, EASTCO’s Directors were concerned at the destruction of habitat and the consequential reduction in wildlife populations in the wilderness areas outside the National Parks that make Tanzania so special. They realized the only way to ensure Africa’s wildlife will endure for future generations was to conserve habitat and lands, and only then will species be able to survive and in some cases recover from years of devastating poaching. They also realized the only way to ensure that Tanzania’s Natural Heritage was not lost forever would be to involve the local communities in saving habitat and wildlife, as well as benefiting from the wildlife on their lands. The gazetting of Community Management for the Randilen Wildlife Management Area (WMA) over twenty years later was EASTCO’s achievement.
We interviewed Simon King, the founder of EASTCO, to find out more.
EASTCO recently won a World Responsible Tourism Award. In 140 characters (a tweet) or less – why do you think you won such an important award?
Community conservation works: after 20 years we were able to show that community conservation does save wildlife and can stop hunting, poaching and land degradation.
What was the driver for creating EASTCO specifically – what gap does it fill?
EASTCO fills the gap between the numerous cookie cutter safari operators and the adventure over-land safaris. EASTCO works with the local communities and offers safaris to remote and off-the- beaten-path destinations, walking on the Masai steppes east of Tarangire, fly camps and cultural interaction, kayaking in the Indian Ocean, rock art sites and specialist safaris.
Who is EASTCO primarily for?
EASTCO is for the safari-goer who feels the need to experience Africa and its people, not just the fly in, fly out safari. This can be any age group that has the need to explore, to meet people and experience landscapes and wildlife. We know that what we are trying to achieve can make a difference to wildlife and the local communities and can enhance their own safari experience and enjoyment.
What difference does EASTCO want to make?
We want to save habitat, and in doing so, save wildlife. The biggest threat to wildlife numbers is loss of habitat. Tanzania has 17% of her land covered by Protected Area where no human settlement or activity is allowed and 18% of her land covered by Protected Area where there is wildlife and humans share the land. Up until 2010 the range for elephants in Tanzania was 39% of her surface area.
We see the only way to preserve wildlife and habitat is by empowering local communities and using tourism to meet these aims. Only the local communities can save their land. They must be given that incentive through tourism revenues.
What are the barriers to making that difference?
Too many tour operators and travel specialists now sell the safari package; there is very little thought to the future, and tour operators’ support is vital if Community Conservation is to be effective and for the Community Conservation Areas to provide meaningful experiences for visitors.
Without a change in thinking by tour operators on how to market Tanzania and its wildlife, by staying longer periods outside the parks in community areas, the only winners will be the hunting companies who dominate these areas now.
Who’s helping you overcome those barriers?
To achieve what we have achieved you also needed to make sure you have people at a District level who are committed to climate change issues and providing better opportunities for their communities. Without them the battle is lost. We have been fortunate in that we have had a Divisional Officer, Mr. Paulo Kiteleki, working in Monduli for over 15 years. Without that longevity and commitment, then these types of projects are overrun by self interest, greed and hunting companies.
Is the tourism sector doing enough to deliver a sustainable travel and tourism?
Tourism operators and lodges owners here are more interested in getting the “Fair Trade” logo or using their “community projects” as marketing tools. Very few are interested in making the long-term difference and working outside the parks in important wildlife areas in community lands.
It is not enough to pass judgement on whether a project will survive or not based on present day economics. The long term value of these lands and the wildlife they preserve is not a dollar and cents judgement.
How can people find out more about EASTCO?
EASTCO has a website, www.eastafricansafari.net, facebook https://www.facebook.com/EastAfricanSafariAndTouringCompany/, instagram https://www.instagram.com/eastafricansafari/ and twitter account https://twitter.com/eastcosafaris.
Ocean Awards 2017 Winners Announced
The winners of the second annual Ocean Awards, hosted by Boat International Media, the international authority on super-yachting, in partnership with the Blue Marine Foundation, have been revealed.
From the development of whale drones and virtual chase boats to the banning of shark fishing and absolving the Seychelles’ debt crisis, each finalist was celebrated for their outstanding contribution to the health of the oceans from every corner of the world.
Land Rover BAR, the yacht racing team founded by four-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Ben Ainslie, leads the list of winners honoured for their passion for improving the oceans, along with Palau’s former UN Ambassador for the Oceans and Seas, the late Stuart Beck. Professor Daniel Pauly and Dr Dirk Zeller – whose monumental study of the world’s fish catches for the Sea Around Us project took the media by storm – are also among those recognised for their efforts in advancing marine conservation through policy initiatives, new innovation and campaigning.
The awards, which are in association with Y.CO, were judged by an esteemed panel chaired by Charles Clover, executive director of Blue Marine Foundation. Also judging the awards were: Sir Charles Dunstone, co-founder and former chairman of Carphone Warehouse and chairman of the TalkTalk Group; Ben Goldsmith, CEO of Menhaden Capital, a new green-focused investment trust; and Charlie Birkett, co-founder and CEO of Y.CO, the challenger brand of the global superyacht industry.
Sacha Bonsor, editor in chief, Boat International Media, said: “Boat International Media is committed to fixing one of the world’s largest solvable problems – the crisis in our oceans. We are delighted to have built a platform of recognition for the outstanding organisations and individuals working towards improving the health of the oceans. Our inspirational nominees and winners are driving awareness and implementing the change that can save our oceans, and they should all be immensely proud.”
Charles Clover, executive director, Blue Marine Foundation, said: “Studies show that although the oceans are now under serious threat, with decisive action their resilience and carbon absorption can be improved and overfishing reversed within 20 years. There are still huge challenges ahead but the work of our winners is promising, motivating and worthy of celebration. This is one area of conservation where we are winning.”
Adrian Grenier, actor and founder of the Lonely Whale Foundation, who was also shortlisted for an Ocean award, said: “The biggest threat to our oceans right now is non-action. Our oceans are resilient but only if we take collective steps towards protecting and rebuilding them. We need to protect 30 per cent of our oceans by 2030. Today, we’ve protected just three per cent. We have a long way to go but I’m ready for the challenge and the opportunity to engage a new community of environment leaders.”
Helena Christensen, model and environmentalist, said: “I have huge respect and admiration for the sea. There is hardly anything more magical; its power is infinite and ever-changing. Ocean life depends on a thriving coral reef and we are destroying it.”
Full list of winners: Ocean Awards 2017
Seafarers’ Award: Ben Ainslie Racing, Land Rover BAR
Local Hero Award: Dennis Bryan Bait-it, Project Sharklink
Innovation Award: The Nature Conservancy
Responsible Business Award: Industry Group Agreement to Cod fishery in the northern part of North-East Atlantic
Policy Award: Claire Nouvian, Bloom
Public Education Award: Ian Urbina, The New York Times
Visionary Award: Stuart Beck, UN Ambassador for the Oceans and Seas
Science Award: Daniel Pauly and Dirk Zeller, Sea Around Us, the University of British Columbia
The Seafarers’ Award, which celebrates an individual or group from the seafaring community that has made the biggest difference over the past year to advance marine conservation, went to Land Rover’s Ben Ainslie Racing partnership. Known as Land Rover BAR, the movement was driven by Dr Susie Tomson and inspired the British America’s Cup sailing team’s sustainability strategy. The team is recognised for its project to bring back native oysters to southern British water and ‘say no to single use plastic’ campaigns while using technology sustainably via ‘virtual chase boat’.
The Local Hero Award was picked up by Dennis Bryan Bait-it of Philippines-based Project Sharklink. A co-founder of Project Sharklink, Bait-it has worked to enhance the benefits of diver tourism to his local community. He was also recognised for bringing together local fishermen tasked with protecting Monad Shoal, the only place in the world where it is possible to dive with thresher sharks, by patrolling waters and reporting illegal shark fishing activity.
The Nature Conservancy created a groundbreaking marine investment model when it brokered a debt swap between the government of the Seychelles and its Paris Club creditors, restructuring the Seychelles’ debt in exchange for a commitment by the 115-island archipelago to invest in marine conservation. This innovation provides a model for other small island developing states and saw the Conservancy awarded the Innovation Award.
The Industry Group Agreement to cod fishery in the northern part of Northeast Atlantic won the Award for Responsible Business. This follows the statement made by industry bodies including fishing unions, fleets, supermarkets and processors not to trawl for cod in the waters around Svalbard and up to the North Pole until evidence showed no harm would be caused. McDonald’s Corporation played a major role in convening industry stakeholders around the question of protecting vulnerable marine habits in the Arctic. Other members of the group include the Norwegian Fishing Vessel Owners Association, Tesco, Young’s Seafood Ltd and Marks & Spencer.
Claire Nouvian was awarded the Policy Award for her work with the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, leading to the EU to pass a ban on deep-sea bottom trawling in June 2016. Nouvian founded BLOOM in 2005, waging a campaign to highlight the damage caused by such practices.
Investigative journalist Ian Urbina was selected as the winner of the Public Education Award for his Outlaw Ocean Series, published in the New York Times between July 2015 and February 2016. Urbina travelled across 14 countries and five seas to bring the extent of lawlessness on the oceans into the public eye, encouraging criminal prosecutions and alerting governments to the enormity of the problem. There are now plans for a Netflix film of the series produced by Leonardo DiCaprio.
Following a visit to Palau to study coral reef preservation in 1976, Stuart Beck became a passionate supporter of the island nation, helping it gain independence, and later becoming its ambassador to the United Nations. Beck, who died last year, was honoured with the Visionary Award for his work in establishing Palau as one of the strongest advocates for marine protection on the world stage. Beck is succeeded in his role by his wife Tulik.
On the 19th January 2016, Nature Communications published a study by Prof. Daniel Pauly and Dr Dirk Zeller, which showed that over the past 60 years the global fish catch had been about 50 per cent greater than official estimates suggested. The study, based on 10 years of collecting data, resulted in substantial media attention and is encouraging many countries to improve their monitoring of fisheries, control and enforcement approaches. Pauly and Zeller were awarded the highly coveted Science Award.
Switch2 Energy Awarded Trio Of International Management Standards
Switch2 Energy, district heating specialist, has received the ISO 14001:2015 environmental and OHSAS 18001: 2007 health and safety accreditations, which have been integrated with the company’s existing ISO 9001:2015 quality management system to mark a triple achievement.
The company was supported through the process by FPA Consulting, and LRQA, which recommended Switch2 for the double certification following a five-day audit process.
Kirsty Lambert, Managing Director, Switch2, said: “We have always had robust management systems and processes, but we now have a fully integrated management system that combines the world’s best environmental, health and safety and quality ISO standards.
“We have undertaken a rigorous business improvement and assurance process with professional support from FPA and LRQA and are very proud to have achieved a trio of ISO accreditations. These standards are at the heart of our strategy and operation, and are crucial in supporting the ongoing growth of our business.”
John Barke, Managing Director, FPA Consulting, said: “Congratulations to Kirsty and the team. They have worked hard to maximize the benefits that ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 can bring, in particular around customer service, satisfaction and managing business risk which is critical to their business resilience.”
Yorkshire-based Switch2 Energy has more than 35 years experience of smart metering and billing for the community energy and district heating sector. The company remotely manages and monitors its smart meters from its UK customer service centre, which offers complete billing and administration services to more than 430 heat networks and 70,000 homes.
Further information: www.switch2.co.uk