Why small scale ecotourism?
Though your visit you are creating direct financial benefits, stimulating local pride in the natural values and individual entrepreneurship. The guests visiting the area can enjoy the local cuisine and celebrate the growing wildlife comeback in Europe, while gaining first hand experience with European wildlife and conservation. As a result, the backbone of wilderness conservation – local communities have a chance to benefit from endeavor, especially financially.
We do not aim to create a mass tourism model in which many people view wild animals, as if living in a fenced-in park or reserve. We focus instead on small groups (up to 4 people per guide) and a more immersive experience, looking at details of the ecosystem, interpreting tracks and signs or other observations during one of our 3-4 hour walking activities.
How are the locals involved and how do they benefit?
In principle, the more locals benefit from the conservation project, the better. However, in reality, there are limits to the influence a project can have. The ecotourism venture is a constantly growing business and in need of a number of different facilitators. This is a basic role the locals play. For instance, we employ a chef for the duration of a Tented Camp stay to cater and cook locally sourced meals for the guests. This is important as the extensive, semi-subsistence agricultural practices in the villages play a major role in the local biodiversity. By purchasing vegetables and fruits, dairy products, eggs, meat and delicious plum liquor from the community, we are supporting this sustainable way of life.
Additionally, we also hire local 4×4 drivers to transport the guests and staff from the village to the Bison Hillock area and offer Local home stay accommodations in the villages.
The ecotourism venture itself is centered around a local ecotourism business started up by one of the bison rangers with support from the wider WWF and Rewilding team.