Thursday, July 21, 2011
It is a very sad fact that many African guides are more interested in great tips than respect for wildlife. This is understandable - certain clients will tip more to get close and get that great shot, even if annoying or harassing the animal is the result. Clients may demand behavior that is not best for the animals, and guides often feel this pressure so they do what is asked even if they know they shouldn't. This pressure is even worse when the animal is particularly rare or very sought after. Many times clients may not realize the negative consequences of getting too close or staying too long. An ethical guide will respect park rules as well as what is best for animals, but may be penalized at tip time for doing so by clients who care more about their photo ops than the animal's welfare. If you go on an animal viewing/wildlife trip, please think about what is best for the animal and respect whatever rules the guide sets out.
We left this poor rhino in peace quickly, but it was sad to see him struggle with the traffic and the cars jockey for position continuing to block his path. This is where a park ranger would have come in handy if willing to block the road and let the poor guy on his way. Unfortunately, all the park rangers we ran into in Norongoro Crater were speeding and none of them seemed to be actively engaged in animal protection. Our guide reported that the rangers in fact kill many animals due to failure to obey speed limits they themselves set.