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"Hats off to your Safari guide, Peter, who knew his animals down to the gestation period and the life expectancies!" B.M., USA More Comments

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Elephants in the Masai Mara

A Kenyan Fairy Tale
September 11, 2000

Watamu, Kenya. What happens when you combine an eco-friendly safari company, a Kenyan Park Agency, two safari enthusiasts, a safari camp and an orphanage? Free, educational safaris for ten of Kenya's orphans!

Eco-resorts creates tailor-made safaris using East Africa's eco-friendly properties, providing safari information, organization and payment services on the internet. To Eco-resorts, ECO means Environmentally and Community Orientated; they feature small and unique properties, found off the tourist path while offering a benefit to the local community.

In late 1999, an Eco-resorts prize drawing gave a delighted John Boothroyd and Alison Meek $500 off their upcoming safari. However, they requested that the prize money go to the local community instead. After some deliberation, they chose to sponsor safaris for the Children of the Rising Sun (CRS) orphanage, one of the community projects supported by Eco-resorts. Why? "Most Kenyan children never have a chance to see an elephant or lion in their own country."

In early 2000, Eco-resorts scouted for a child-friendly safari camp. Turtle Bay Safari Camp donated a one night/two day safari at cost. Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS), the Kenyan Park Service, reduced the park fees by 60%.

Despite the generous donations, the funds didn't allow all 28 children to go on safari. So Eco-resorts started a three-month competition at CRS, based on the children's school attendance, chores, hygiene and general helpfulness. Only the top ten children would win the prize, creating a three-month fervor of activity at the orphanage!

Meanwhile, John was creating KiSwahili safari guidebooks for the children, but he needed the animal translations from English into KiSwahili. Eco-resorts coordinated the key animal and fact translations between John and KWS. No Swahili guide-book existed, challenging KWS to translate some of the names into Swahili! KWS now has a sample, KiSwahili guidebook to use for Kenyans who visit their national parks.

August 30 arrived with two mini-buses, ten excited children and John and Alison leaving the coast and heading inland to Tsavo East National Park and the camp. The excitement started immediately, "What's that? Why do they do this?" echoed all the way to the park gate!

The KWS rangers outlined the National Park rules at the entrance gate, reminding the children to protect the environment and treat the animals respectfully. "Cutting down that tree for charcoal will create a desert." Small, solemn faces nodded their understanding.

Lion and elephant were spotted almost immediately. Instead of excited cries, however, the children stared reverently at the animals with awe. New lessons awaited the children at the camp as well. During the camp tour, the manager outlined how to use a radio, fire and safety procedures, solar power and even how to order drinks! Despite falling asleep at the dinner table and later arriving home exhausted, they still excitedly compared notes with their friends, remembering the animal names the drivers had taught them.

The children have asked for another chance to go on safari and learn about the wildlife. Provided the funds are found, another ten children will go next year. As Eco-resorts director Neel Inamdar stated, "This is ecotourism at its best. If one of those children becomes a ranger or conservationist, then we have all done our part to assist the local communities."

About Eco-resorts

Eco-resorts.com creates tailor made, adventure eco-safaris using East Africa's ECO friendly properties, providing information, reservations, safari organisation and payment services on the internet.

Our definition of ECO is Environmentally and Community Orientated; many of our properties are small and unique, found off the tourist path. Our featured companies can be environmentally friendly by using solar panels or wind turbines, recycling waste, planting trees or building camps without damaging the environment. These companies could also be community orientated by leasing land from the local tribes, giving a percentage of their profits to the local communities, supporting the local schools and clinics, or training and educating the tribes people in their areas.

CONTACT: Anne Loehr
EMAIL: anne@eco-resorts.com

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