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Great article Greg. You make an important point regarding the lack of understanding about the difference between creating an animal experience for tourists vs protecting biodiversity. The fact that a very large proportion of visitors to Africa still regard a lion cub breeding facility as a conservation project is indicative of this. There are fascinating stories to tell about the way species of plants, insects, birds, reptiles and mammals have evolved together to create intricate and finely balance inter-dependencies, much of which takes place at a level that most visitors would never be aware of. This is where we need to focus our guide training for the future. Not how to get the best view of a kill or how to smash through the bush following a leopard or spew out endless lists of trivia (gestation periods, longevity, weight, food, etc) but rather to impart an understanding and therefore a respect for the complexities of nature. Complex systems evolved over millions of years that man tramples all over with complete disregard.
Thanks for your comment Mark. Yes, there are those guides who smash through the bush and regurgitate animal facts that are forgotten a few moments later, and then there are those who take the time to create a journey that is remembered for a lifetime.My point is that tourism structures are disconnected from conservation objectives and so the connection ends with the guide training. To achieve what you have described is going to take a mammoth effort from every corner of tourism. If we get it right, this country will become a destination to be reckoned with when it comes to natural experiences. As you described, it is all about the interpretation.