April 2016 – Wilderness Safaris is delighted to announce that it has won the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) 2016 Tourism for Tomorrow Award in the Environment category for its pioneering Botswana Rhino Conservation Programme. The awards ceremony was held at WTTC’s Global Summit in Dallas, USA, on 7th April 2016. In 2015, Wilderness Safaris’ Botswana Rhino Conservation Programme moved no less than 1% of Africa’s black rhino population to Botswana’s Okavango Delta.
Wilderness Safaris has won a Tourism for Tomorrow Award no less than three times (1999; 2005; 2016), and been a finalist a further three times (2007; 2010; 2012) in the last 18 years – an unprecedented level of recognition for our industry – but it is perhaps this year’s recognition that is most valued by the company and its staff because of the critical nature of the work done by the Botswana Rhino Conservation programme.
“We are extremely honoured to receive this prestigious award, which recognises the crucial importance of responsible ecotourism and the role it can play in the conservation of endangered species. Rhino conservation is a serious commitment for us, and we are proud to have successfully completed the largest ever cross-border translocation of Critically Endangered black rhino. We strongly believe that our rhino programme represents long-term sustainable conservation and results in the protection of Africa’s spectacular biodiversity,” says Wilderness Safaris CEO, Keith Vincent.
Following the successful reintroduction of white rhino into Botswana, which began as far back as 1999, Wilderness Safaris in partnership with the Botswana Government, has seen the establishment of a very healthy rhino population in the Okavango Delta over more than 15 years. In 2014 and 2015, Wilderness Safaris carried out several complex and delicate black rhino translocations, so that the project now has the responsibility of constant monitoring and protection of what is now a population of continental conservation significance for both species of African rhino. This important work continues to be undertaken by Wilderness Safaris’ Rhino Monitoring Officers, the Botswana Defence Force and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks’ specialised Anti-Poaching Unit.
Adds Vincent, “As Africa’s leading authentic and sustainable ecotourism company, we are proud to achieve what we have to date, together with the generous support of our important partners in government, NGOs and elsewhere and of course our valued donors from around the world. What we and others are trying to do remains vital to rhino conservation on the continent. Poaching is an enormous threat, which is why our Botswana Rhino Conservation Programme plays such a crucial role in the survival of these the survival of these highly threatened species.”
The Tourism for Tomorrow Awards programme celebrates business leadership that works towards a more sustainable future by educating and inspiring governments, travellers and other tourism businesses. In particular, the Environment Award recognises organisations and companies that have achieved environmental best practice through biodiversity conservation, protection of natural habitats and carbon footprint reduction.
The 2016 awards saw applications from 62 countries go through a rigorous three-stage judging process, with all submissions evaluated by a committee of independent expert judges against established sustainable tourism criteria, and the shortlist of finalists further evaluated in on-site assessments by recognised sustainable tourism experts from around the world.
Click here to watch a short, inspirational video on the Botswana Rhino Reintroduction Project.