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  • Writer's pictureTyrone McKeith

How does a safari to Zambia help Zambians?

We often hear that safari camps and lodges ‘give back’ but what does this look like, in reality, for the local people in which whose homes and regions the safari traveller come to for their safari?

In Zambia, the vast majority of wildlife that still exists can be found in our national parks. There are 20 national parks in Zambia and some were created some 60 years ago, some more recently. What all national parks have in common, with only one or two exceptions, is that the local people who once resided in these areas, before they were demarcated and gazzetted, were re-settled outside of what was then to become these wildlife reserves.

It is true that life was very different back then, the populations were smaller, potentially more nomadic and seasonal in existence but that these national parks were homes to many people. Governments at the time thought that people and wildlife could not coexist and that to ensure the survival of wildlife, humans, the perceived cause of the decline in wildlife numbers, needed to be moved out and re-settled on the park boundaries.

So – how then does coming on a safari to Zambia help Zambian people?

It is true that the majority of camps and lodges are owned by non-nationals (yes not all, but certainly many) and certainly none are owned by the local people from the nearby communities (at least not within the parks themselves, though some are now, on the outskirts).

The answer is therefore two-fold, one being in the paying of taxes to the government. The Tourism industry in Zambia is the third largest contributor to the nations GDP after mining and agriculture – without the additional revenues brought to Zambia, our increasingly developing nation would struggle to provide access to healthcare, education and other aspects of civil life.

Second to the fiscal benefits of tourism to Zambian people, is a more local-scale one. All safari camps in our wild areas aim to recruit staff from the local areas, the very areas and communities whose ancestors were once re-settled out to. The safari tourism industry is particularly important to the local people in rural areas as there are almost no alternatives, the remote national parks are not urban centres where jobs in other industries can be found – safari tourism is the most important employment opportunity for Zambian’s in rural areas. Employing people from the areas adjoining our wildlife areas gives meaning to wildlife, it gives a tangible link between the two; wildlife = jobs.

At Classic Zambia, whilst some of the Directors are non-Zambian, we proudly employ 72 local Zambians across our offices in Lusaka and our camps Musekese and Ntemwa-Busanga in the Kafue, and Kutali and Chula Island in the Lower Zambezi.


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