Our conservational efforts are firmly rooted in our regions of expertise. A great deal of time is spent weighing up what we do and its impact on the environments we work in. Long before conservation and “eco-friendly” became trendy marketing words, Tropical Ice by necessity, was forced to take it seriously: for instance, the Galana River in Tsavo East National Park, where we’ve worked for over 30 years, is as fragile an ecosystem as any endangered wilderness place on our planet.
The concept of “Going Green” has become less about making changes to reduce impact, and more about marketing. We at Tropical Ice have never sought to acquire labels in the form of eco-this or eco-that; when we thoroughly analysed our impact on our work environment we found out that there really wasn’t much we needed to change.
Our contribution to conservation is best illustrated by our work in Tsavo. We’ve made peripheral changes in our camps: we’ve reduced the amount of fuel used to heat water by designing efficient heaters; we use fuel made from recycled coffee husks instead of charcoal from hacked down trees; our camp firewood comes from tree farms so that we don’t use important dead wood from our fragile surroundings; we’ve virtually eliminated plastic bottles by refining our water filtering systems.
But there are more important aspects to our conservation involvement.
Tropical Ice annually pays the Kenya Wildlife Service a significant amount of money for the lease of our Durusirkale campsite on the Galana River. The amount equals that paid by permanent hotel camps, and lodges in all national parks of Kenya. We pay this money because we know the ecosystem can only withstand low-impact interference, and by doing so we can protect this idyllic place from exploitation by large hotel/camp chains. It took us years to secure our lease because no one could understand our willingness to pay in order not to develop.
One of the more shameful aspects of the world we live in, caused primarily by out of control human population expansion, is the fact that in most places, wildlife and wilderness can only exist as long as it can pay its way. The average length of time a tourist visits, and pays, to be in an East African national park is two days; our walking safaris across Tsavo West and East – the biggest, natural elephant parks in the world – accrues an income of eleven days’ park fees per person. If one adds to this our camp and permit fees it isn’t difficult to see that our annual income towards the preservation of Tsavo is considerable.
Our walking safaris report on, and update, the park authorities about the current situation of the country we cross. We frequently spot poacher tracks, and collect animal snares that they have placed; we find elephants that have died naturally; we remove the tusks before poachers find them, and carry them to our camps from where they are delivered to the park headquarters. We’ve even managed to apprehend the occasional poacher.
These are the areas where Tropical Ice truly believes we make a difference.