Centurion – June 2020

I had come to the Namib to shadow Stander in his research on a trip organized by Wilderness Safaris as part of the outfitter’s Travel with Purpose program of small-group itineraries, which emphasizes conservation and community engagement.

Our base was Wilderness Safaris’ Damaraland Camp, a collection of ten bungalows on a rocky slope overlooking the Huab River Valley, with rooms that were luxurious by desert standards, excellent food, and attentive service. But the greatest privilege was the chance to see Stander at work. For more than two decades, Wilderness has provided him with financial support and lodging, but this was the first time it had collaborated with him on a trip—”an experiment,” as Stander called it—that gave guests the chance to witness his efforts firsthand.

The opportunities Wilderness’s Travel with Purpose program offer don’t just satisfy a growing demand for deeper and more exclusive safari experiences—they support a greater mission to build community-based conservation. “Tourism gives value to wildlife,” Stander told our group of four over dinner the first evening. “It provides income and job opportunities and a whole range of other benefits to the communities. Without tourism, we would not be able to justify lions in this area.”

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