Wouter Vergeer
Netherlands NL
Jun 27, 2014 June 27, 2014

Wouter found time to combine his professional expertise with his greatest passion- the African Safari. In this union of business and leisure, SafariBookings was born.

Category: Other

Friends of Serengeti seeks to save an iconic ecosystem through sustainable tourism

Pressures on the Serengeti ecosystem have become critical
Population has soared, habitat is being lost, and poaching, roads, towns, and mines threaten this priceless ecosystem. Irreversible damage to the Serengeti ecosystem would devastate tourism throughout the region and have a cascading effect on other natural areas in Africa and around the world. Threats to the Serengeti, an icon of World Heritage Sites, represents a threat to the UNESCO World Heritage concept itself.

Right now, tourists from around the world coming to Africa to photograph the continent’s wildlife are the biggest conservationists by far. The operators and establishment owners that attract these tourists by selling the dream of an African photographic safari are the new ambassadors for conservation.
— Steve Boyes, National Geographic

Friends of Serengeti
Friends of Serengeti  is a nonprofit association for the travel industry that was formed in response to these threats.

It was formed because threats to the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem have entered a new and critical phase. The stakes are high. The Serengeti is really our test case going forward in whether the world can accomplish this in the 21st Century.

It’s mission, to bring together travel companies and travelers to build a permanent structure of support, advocacy, and funding for the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem.

Friends of Serengeti combines travel marketing and conservation. It creates an important new marketplace for safari operators, lodges, and hotels. It offers member companies an international, professional affiliation, and an important way to stand out and get noticed by travelers.

Modeled after the successful International Galapagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA)  www.igtoa.org, It believes that the travel industry must give back. And companies that give back should in turn benefit from their efforts. Member companies raise funds by educating their travelers and asking for donations to fund important projects. Like IGTOA,  Friends of Serengeti partners with NGO’s working in the area to identify and carry out its programs.

What FOS Does

  • Serengeti Teachers Education Program (STEP) -  takes teachers and students into the Serengeti and provides ongoing teacher support.
  • Serengeti Preservation Foundation (SPF) - funded an independent, all-Tanzanian conservation organization and sent the Director of the SPF to Wild10 in Salamanca, Spain, to give a presentation to participants from around the world.
  • Tanzania Heritage Program -  will offer training and grants for media production in conservation. A series of radio programs will soon be broadcast in the Maa language to Maasai living around the Serengeti.
  • Legal Defense Fund - provided the majority of funding for the legal case against the highway in the East African Court of Justice.
  • Petitions - four petitions with more than 175,000 signers from around the world.
  • Scientist Petition and Survey – with more than 300 international scientists.
  • Economic Impact Study – How a Serengeti highway will affect tourism, jobs, and income in Tanzania.
  • Social Media – 60,000+ Facebook followers and 10,000 newsletter recipients, growing each day.
  • Press Media – Work with the media all over the world to publicize Serengeti issues and coordinate with other NGOs.

Member Benefits
Member company benefits include use of the FOS logo and other marketing materials, listing on the FOS web site, promotion of FOS on Facebook to 60,000+ fans, networking with potential travelers on our Facebook and our discussion forum. And promotion through our affiliates: Adventure Travel Trade Association, Center for Responsible Travel, Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

Travel Industry Membership
Membership is open to international tour operators of all sizes who send travelers to Kenya and/or Tanzania, and to travel companies located in East Africa. Members are expected to participate in our Serengeti Travelers Conservation Fund.

Web site:  http://www.friendsofserengeti.org
Membership information: http://friendsofserengeti.org/membership-levels/
Application form:  http://friendsofserengeti.org/application/
Contact:  David Blanton, info@savetheserengeti.org