The Wildlife Conservation Foundation of Tanzania aims to protect the unique heritage of Wildlife of Tanzania. One of the unique ecosystems of the world hosts one of the largest concentrations of elephants, making it a prime target for poachers. Just 10 years of this level of poaching would be enough to exterminate the elephant population, albeit the richest in the world. This is a cause that concerns us all, because we are all responsible. The Government of Tanzania assumes sole protection of this common heritage, in the tradition handed down by President Julius Nyerere through his famous Arusha Declaration. It is important to know that with its 12 National Parks and its many Game Reserves ; Marine Parks & Forest Reserves, Tanzania devotes more than a third of its vast territory to the protection of wildlife. It is necessary, and just, to give them our support to save our heritage, to save these endangered species which face extinction. Our mission is to protect those who cannot save themselves, criminally exterminated in the lure of profit.
In 1988, Gérard Pasanisi, who later became Honorary Consul of Tanzania in France and Executive Vice President of the WCFT, obtained from the French Minister of the Environment, Mr. Brice Lalonde, (while France held the Presidency the European Union), a commitment at the conference of CITES in Lausanne to prohibit the ivory trade by moving the elephant to Appendix 1. Thanks to this intervention, the ivory trade in the world was finally banned.
Unfortunately, as of 2007, elephant poaching resumed to then reach dramatic proportions in 2012, 2013 and 2014 that are totally out of control. Every day, the elephants disappear into the culpable indifference of all the international powers combined, having the right to shed tears of good conscience only after it may be too late. If tomorrow the media told you that this giant that leaves its huge imprint on the dusty earth, the African Elephant, had disappeared, that he is no now more than a legend or an animal of the past that we might only encounter in the corner of a museum...
Would you remain indifferent? Men are fighting out in the field to protect them, for us and for future generations, sometimes risking their lives. It is a real Ivory War that is being waged out there. It is not a question of leaving it to those for whom it is a vocation, it is about allowing their action to continue. Thanks to the WCFT, the two main poaching networks in Tanzania but also in Kenya and Mozambique were dismantled. The manifestation of a will to succeed is required to put a stop to this constantly renewing massacre because poaching continues.
The Foundation does not receive any grant, so its independence is guaranteed. It relies solely on volunteers, as well as on close collaboration with the Tanzanian Government, without whom nothing would be possible.
It is exclusively financed by donations made to it, and thanks to the precious support that we solicit.
It is a commitment to the real Ecology and in its sole service.
For more than thirty years, we have been involved in viable aid projects with Tanzanian schools. Often, we co-finance these projects with the help of client companies who wish to leave a legacy and a tangible trace of their Tanzania sojourn. Many large and smaller companies have helped finance some quite substantial projects, school and college infrastructure. These achievements range from the construction of schools from the building foundations to the first day of classes, in areas that had no educational facilities at all, to the expansion and upgrading of existing structures – building of classrooms and other school buildings to cope with the recent dramatic increase in school enrolment; projects to improve the lives of students such as supply and distribution of drinking water; renovation of toilets; pathway and playground area rehabilitation, making it easier for students & staff to move about ; canteens; libraries; offices; teachers’ housing; sports facilities ... ) Regarding smaller donations, we buy educational materials like notebooks; pencils & pens; uniforms.. some schools have upwards of 1,000 students and attendance is in 2 ‘shifts’ during the day and a majority of parents cannot afford to pay for the neecessities. It is therefore mostly up to the schools themselves to meet the yearly rising expenses. These donations are often made on the occasion of visits and other less formal encounters between travellers and students, while having a snack or during a ‘Student vs. Guest’ football match!
Nature Heritage of Bashay Village Foundation:
We have all come across a situation where we've said "if ... I do my part to change things". If you had the time, the means, the support needed. That's what happened to us too. In rural villages, people use wood charcoal for cooking. Trees provide this basic need, but Nature takes time to restore its balance. That's why we decided to give Nature a bit of a jump start..
"When you cut a tree, plant another one". This sentence is the driving force behind the project that was born with the Basrah Hifadhi Mazingira Kijiji Cha Bashay Foundation: Conserving the Bashay Villages Environment. In 2012, Denis Lebouteux, the director of MKSC, established the Foundation with Daniel as head. Joined in 2015 by Catherine, they have worked since then together to carry it out. For the task is not small: thanks to their work, 30,000 young tree seedlings have been propagated and replanted by families each year in the entire area of Bashay. Each family is entitled to 20 plants per year, which they get from the Foundation for free. The 973 households of Bashay are listed in Catherine's notebook which keeps a count of the trees given out throughout the year. However, these are not the only beneficiaries of the project: a hospital, three schools and village gardens receive more than 1000 plants per year as well.
The risk with a project like this is that after a while people do not find it interesting and it falls by the wayside. But what's great is, that from the start, all those involved were volunteers for replanting. Having been informed about the project at its outset, the inhabitants came independently and year after year, have been at the heart of suggesting changes to the species planted. Catherine and Daniel take their requests into consideration and adapt their production as far as possible. Between nine and sixteen different species are planted each year.
The main target is timber and wood fuel trees, Olea africana or Grevillea robusta, for example, but there are also trees like Leucaena Leucocephala used to feed livestock, or fruit trees like papaya, avocado, orange and guava.
Moringa seed (Swahili 'mlonge' or sponge), known for its nutritional and medicinal properties, also sometimes responds to the call. Depending on the species, it can take between four months and a year before the plant is ready to be distributed.
Daniel : We grow our plants in a mixture of mature manure, sand and soil which is all put in polybags. After we water, sometimes adding a natural fertilizer that is prepared with water and manure, and then keep the plants in the shade. We do not have any particular problem growing our trees and we do not use any chemicals.
Catherine : All you can see there are 17,000 plants. We group them by species and at the moment we have ten different ones.
Daniel : Generally we go three to four consecutive days a month in the bush to find what we need. I have moringa seeds that we brought back not long ago, I can show you them just now. There are only two of us working on this project, besides the guard, so I ask four other people to accompany me and Catherine stays at the foundation.
Catherine : Yes, we have students from Rhotia Valley College who come about four times a year for a full day to learn what we do. Then there are groups of 30 to 50 people from overseas, usually Europe or America. We also have young people from a primary school who come occasionally and we raise awareness with them of the importance of trees in conserving the soil and the environment. Just behind you there, you have illustrations on the wall that explain our project; we use them during these presentations, it allows us to better illustrate what we are trying to achieve.
Other than this, we do not have very many visitors, sometimes we receive MKSC guests, but not very often.
We are always happy to receive anyone, so welcome! Karibuni !
When MKSC started to get involved, that is, since September 2014. One of the first things they did was put a fence around the whole area, to prevent the dump from spreading. They also provided sorting cages to be put in place.
Every Sunday; there are also about fifty other lodges that drop their garbage here, some of which make the effort to sort too. It makes it easier for us to work, unlike the municipality's truck that comes five times a day to drop mixed garbage. Here we try when we can separate the metal, the glass and the plastic, into the big cages that you see there. This is difficult and dirty work.
Before we had problems because the company that was supposed to remove them did not come when expected, so MKSC decided to undertake this as well. When one of their trucks is available and empty, and we have enough plastic bottles to give them, it returns to Arusha to deliver them to Swiss Bottlers. Even if there is no rule, we can say that on average it is done every three months.
When we receive cardboard, we put it in this big container of water until it's completely full. Once it's full, we take it out and compress it with the pressing machine. We need a full container like this one to make 50 briquettes.
Just at a time when ecological and health concerns are shifting and adjusting in all areas, the plate of food becomes a central issue.
Is what I eat healthy? Healthy for me, healthy for the earth, healthy for the person who nurtured it and produced it? With us, the responsibility for choosing the produce and products we cook does come back to directly us. But at a restaurant, travelling, at a hotel, we absolve that responsibility to the hands of the host, not knowing for the most part where the food comes from. Mount Kilimanjaro Safari Club has made a definitive choice to be aware of the provenance and control where its vegetables and fruit come from, and makes the choice to keep its customers informed, so you have peace of mind and stomach when you embark on the journey and Tanzanian adventure with us.
Let us guide you through the papaya leaves and pepper seeds in the history of our garden.
In 2013, MKSC acquired land at the bottom of the hill where the lodge stands, to drill a well. Larger than what we required for water supply and irrigation purposes alone, we decided to plant some fruit trees there. But as nature hates a void, other vegetation began to appear on our little piece of land. Enthusiastically, we planted a bit of everything, including artichokes and strawberries. After some failures, we finally decided to refocus our efforts on a smaller number of vegetables and to better organize ourselves. The "Kitchen Garden" was born.
From avocados to pumpkins, to eggplants, leeks and lemons, today our organic vegetable garden supplies three of our lodges, Olduvai, Maweninga and Bashay Rift, with more than twenty different vegetables and fruits. To guarantee their freshness, a member of staff is responsible for picking and harvesting the produce every three days. With this garden, our ambition is to achieve self-sufficiency in most vegetables. That's why in 2017 we made the decision to double the area to 2.8 acres. We hope that it will be possible in the near future to deliver to two to three more lodges and eventually target all seven lodges.
On the production side, our gardeners work on stacks of crops that they mulch in the dry season to limit evaporation. Organic is now mandatory with us, no more chemicals are used! Market gardeners practice crop rotations, spray natural home-made treatments, rely on cats to eat mice, and nets to prevent birds from pecking at the delicious chard leaves. Fruit-side, it is also very commendable, in terms of a permaculture garden on several levels, the shrubs and the banana trees create a little shade and shelter the numerous birds, the passion fruit plants green the metal fences and shelter crops from the frequent wind and dust.
In order to save water, we have installed a drip irrigation system, which allows us to obtain regular production all year round.
To complete the picture, there are also compost bins and a nursery where most seedlings are nurtured in the cooling shade.
Growing our own vegetables was a first step for us, but in order to continue with the aim to go further in compliance with our principles, we started organic production. The interviews with Gardeners who have launched this transition will enlighten you more.
Julius: When customers were informed of the presence of the vegetable garden, the first question they asked was often "It is organic? " That's where the idea of going into it this approach originated. We were apprehensive before we started, we had never done agriculture without pesticides, but with the management of MKSC, we said "we'll try and if it does not work, we will return to chemicals". The first step was the annual Arusha Agricultural Fair. We stayed there for 10 full days, we learned a lot about organic farming. This year MKSC has also sent us on a two-week training in Permaculture in Morogoro. We have gradually put into practice here what we learned there.
Julius: Insects! This is always the main challenge. Almost all the yields went down when we stopped our chemical treatments; especially the tomatoes! But MKSC management continued to encourage us. We started to make our natural treatments, such as nettle manure, to plant carnations, which are repellent flowers against certain insects. Little by little we have learned and progressed.
Emmanuel : The rainy season is also a problem when you are going organic. Before we used pesticide products that limited the cold and other problems that could occur during the rainy season. But with organic, we had nothing, so it was difficult AND it's still difficult!
All four: We are proud of them all! But there are vegetables which the transition to organic has not changed, they seem to do as well either with or without chemicals: white cabbage, spinach and aubergine (eggplant). The ones that cause us a lot of problems are tomatoes and green peppers ... and cucumbers too.
Julius : At first we really did not think we would get there, but we were supported and encouraged, so we made the effort and it paid off. Now we have a good production, and without any chemical help. So, yes, I can say that we are happy when we look from where we started off, but it's still difficult.
Julius : Now you can be sure that when you eat our vegetables at the lodges of Bashay and Maweninga they are fresh and without any harmful toxins or other herbicides not conducive to your health.
Charles : If you spend a night at Bashay Rift Lodge and you have the opportunity to visit the garden, we would be pleased to welcome you and show you our handiwork - Karibu sana!
I started in 2013. Since the Camps were set up without any connection at all to the national grid, the solar panels were installed before my arrival as a Consultant. When I started what was already in place was good but since 2013, MKSC has really increased its commitment to the photovoltaic installations, investing totally in equipment and training.
This is an aspect particularly close to my heart and starts with the MKSC electricians. Training and supervision of these technicians is integral to my role. I also often take Trainees and Apprentices from KITEC (a local technical college) with me; it is vital that young people today learn about green technologies such as solar power. And this can lead to a placement with the company.
On average,solar panels last 25 years; some batteries 7-10 year and the inverters up to 15 years.The ideal would be to find an appropriate company which does this in Tanzania to avoid overseas transportation and all its implications; for the moment we have a pathway in Arusha. MKSC wanted to find an ecological solution to the electrical constraints which had been faced by their sites and, for the most part, the solar panels themselves are recycling well; better and better. In short,the very first batches of panels, on the market 30 years ago,are now coming to the end of their life. Before it was not attractive economically for a company to enagage specifically in the mass recycling of panels but now the huge increase in demand for materials and to recycle and re-sell is becoming more profitable. Then to complete the ecological approach of MKSC, all the new panels since 2014 are from a CO2 neutral enterprise.
Mount Kilimanjaro Safari Club launched in June 2018, 2 4x4 safari cars 100% electric and 100% solar. Both cars operate daily from Grumeti Hills, day and night safaris and transfers to Fort Ikoma airfield.
Denis : For more than 15 years, we have installed solar panels in our properties. The advance of technology and falling costs helped; we have regularly increased the photovoltaic power installed at our various camps or lodges. Then came the point when we found we were producing more electricity than we needed, especially at Grumeti Hills. We had already linked up to PV, every USAGE possible,(washing machines, dish-washer, refrigerators … etc)
I had read about a Botswana experiment with electric-powered safari cars. Harald, our German engineer then put me in contact with a start-up from Bavaria, (Fleck Technologies) who converted cars of any type into electric cars. So we started off with two cars that have been operating since 24/06/18.
Denis : This is, of course, problem No. 1. We are used to cars having a good range. With the electric car, we must ask ourselves the right question: a car, for what purpose exactly?
Depending on the particular demands of the day's excursion, we can switch to an electrical solution or we can stay with conventionally powered vehicles (for the moment at least – technology is moving forward!)
The usage of the first 2 cars is short game drives (day and night) and transfers to/from Grumeti Hills. So it was decided that a range of 130km is more than enough to safely cover this.
Denis : We could think so. In fact, it's the opposite. This technology is very simple compared conventional engines. These electric cars require about 40 components, while conventional technology requires hundreds.
Moreover, the latest generation of conventional models, with all its attendant electronics on board, cannot hope to survive long in our remote parts.
Electrical technology is much more basic than the combustion engine.
In 1880, a French engineer drove the first electric car...
Denis : First of all, these cars are actually recycled! These first 2 reconditioned Toyota vehicles were over 20 years old, earmarked for scrap. Recycling remains the No.1 tool against overconsumption and CO² production.
Secondly, these cars are recharged with solar power (100%). This is a totally different context from, say, German or USA electric cars that recharge from power sources running from coal fueled power plants.
There remains the problem of the batteries. These should last about ten years, (I think we will do better) with the possibility of giving them a second life as storage for lighting in the properties. For information, the batteries of conventionally powered safari cars do not last much more than 8 months, on average because of the frequent "stop and go" nature of a photographic safari.
Finally, when we look at the fuel consumption of 4x4 conventional equivalents, it comes to between 15 and 18L per 100km.
These 15 to 18 litres are just the tip of the iceberg, we need to include the amount consumed to transport from ports and distribution points to the consumer at the service stations & storage areas as well as the consumption on trips to/from the pumps: in the case of Grumeti this is 50km one way! And it should be said we are not in the worst position by any means.
Denis : It's obvious. I have already planned the modification of 5 more vehicles for 2019. The technical challenges exist, the utilisation marked out for these 5 new cars is different and so require their own unique technical solutions.
Beyond this experience specific to MKSC, I especially want to share it with my colleagues in DMCs & agencies.
We are talking about hundreds of vehicles in the short term.
Tanzania can quickly & readily switch to electric for a large part of its fleet: there are plenty of old vehicles and there is plenty of sunshine … The technology exists, is advancing and costs will continue to go down.
Water is one of the important challenges in the management of our camps and lodges. Most sites do not have wells or other water sources nearby, either because there is not a viable water table or because the quality of the water is poor. The majority of the water table in the Serengeti/Ngorongoro Conservation Area is very high in minerals due to ancient and recent volcanic activity. This type of water causes premature damage to plumbing and equipment such as water heaters. The most traditional solution is to transport water purchased from rural water supply by bowser to the sites, bringing with it significant financial and ecological costs, especially as water points of acceptable quality are quite distant. On the other hand, water is often scarce in some areas, so naturally, priority is given to local needs (population ; livestock) and the camp operator may have to source water from even further afield. This is how the idea of turning to rainwater for a solution came about.
On average, Paris gets more than 640 mm of rainfall per year, while areas like Grumeti or Mara receive more than 1 metre per year. Of course, the rains are much more seasonal in our regions. MKSC has therefore been equipped with sufficient catchment and storage solutions to guarantee partial autonomy (80% at Mara River Post) in rainwater on our facilities. The goal is to limit the frequency of trucks going back and forth.
Collection: All recent constructions were planned from the start to facilitate the harvesting of rainfall. In addition, large funnels of sheet metal over thousands of square metres are in use on hillsides to recover water.
Storage: The older established sites were able to build cisterns large enough to keep them going even over the driest summers. We built tanks - the largest ones are 150,000 litres – well protected from light and able to keep the water pure for several months.
The facts are truly shocking. At present, in one week, a guest consumes more than twenty small 50cl bottles of water, not to mention the bottles of a litre and a half...
Empty bottle recycling facilities exist but can only deal with a small number of these bottles. The rest unfortunately ends up on the roadside, in open dumps, burnt or scattered by the wind...
This invasion of plastics, here just as everywhere else, is a subject we all have to tackle.
New technologies in the treatment of water exist and it is up to us to utilise them for the best and offer our guests "plastic free” drinking water of suitable quality and in sufficient quantities.
MKSC has long been committed to responsible tourism. It has developed a coherent policy in this respect, which includes waste treatment, rainwater harvesting, the use of electric vehicles, the development of an organic vegetable garden and support for local communities.
However, we found that plastic water bottles represented a considerable volume that was difficult to process in the absence of recycling capacity in the region. Replacing plastic water bottles with filtered natural water seems the ideal solution - especially since at Bashay Lodge, we have good quality natural water. Of course, we have had to proceed in stages: checking the quality of the water; purchase of a filtration system; testing first in the laboratory and then acceptance by the guests.
Very positively. We suspected that this would be the case, because more and more of the guests who visit Tanzania, especially on safari, put respect for the environment at the top of their concerns. This is also true of the travel agencies we work with. The abandoning of plastic bottles is therefore very strongly supported by both our partners and our guests. What's more, they appreciate the quality and taste of our natural water. Of course, guests who wish to can still order bottles of water.
We found in Bashay a 70% reduction in the consumption of bottled water. By the end of the year, tens of thousands of plastic bottles will have been saved and will not need to be recycled.
Rolling out to other MKSC camps is underway. After checking the quality of the water supplied in situ and recognising that some are in very dry areas, procedures for filtering and supplying all our camps will soon mean filtered natural water is available at all sites. This is already the case at Grumeti Hills Lodge, which, in addition, has set up an integrated system for collecting and filtering rainwater.This is also true for the most recently opened camp, ‘Olduvai Ndogo.’
By the end of 2019, all camps will be using quality filtered water and will have greatly reduced their use of plastic bottles.
What's more, we are thinking of ordering and offering to each of our guests a re-usable water bottle at the beginning of the stay. This will keep fresh water for their daily consumption, ‘waste-free!’.