Putting something back
Since David & Masa realised their dream of having their own safari operation, they have wanted to help preserve the wildlife of Tanzania as well as its people. It is the strength of their friendship and mutual resolve over many years that has meant that this goal continues to be achieved, sometimes in small ways, sometimes big. Their energy and drive is boundless and supported by a fantastically dedicated team. They themselves try to ensure all projects see tangible results to make a real difference. The challenges are often big and some projects don’t always reach the intended goal, often due to sheer bureaucracy within the machinery of the country. We have set out here a brief overview of some of our most noteworthy initiatives undertaken over the years of operation. We set up the Care with a View Foundation through which most of our projects are funded.
Back in the UK, in 2019 David set up the Cumbria Eco Forum together with Dr Emily Fitzherbert who herself spent 10 years in Tanzania working on her PHD. They brought together primary and secondary schools throughout Cumbria who each showcased their work to a panel of prominent judges who were to judge and announce winners at the first schools eco forum day which was to be held on March 13th 2020 at Sedbergh School. Prominent speakers were to attend from the public and private sector as well as the political stage. The event had to be postponed due to the outbreak of Covid 19. There is no date for this event to be rescheduled as yet but the will is there.
We met a fantastic couple called Mark & Jo Topley who had founded the bridge2aid ngo. Like David & Tara, Jo & Mark were also living in Tanzania with a similar vision of helping local communities. On one social evening, Mark revealed that one of the biggest killers in Tanzania was septic teeth in remote villages where there are no dentists and even if there were, they would be prohibitively expensive. Bridge2Aid brought qualified UK dentists and dental nurses out to Tanzania for a 2 week sabbatical each year with a goal to training people in local remote villages to simply extract teeth in a safe and sterile way. This could save lives. Our role was to identify villages and help connect the dental team with the village council in order to arrange the training. We provided free board and lodgings in our Sable Mountain Lodge in Selous and Simply Saadani Camp in Saadani National Park as a lovely base for the dentals teams. This initiative is still ongoing.
Whilst there have been periods of poaching of Tanzania's elephants throughout the last century, the last period of intensive poaching was 2009-2013 when the country lost a shocking half of its population with 2/3 of elephants lost in Selous Game reserve (now Nyerere National Park). Whilst poaching of elephants was rife throughout the country during this period, Selous suffered most with a population that dropped from 40,000 to just 13,000 in the space of a few years. Something had to be done and fast. A Tent with a View together with the late Dr Alfred Kikoti joined together to form a pressure group called the TEPS (Tanzania Elephant Protection Society) and brought together all prominent East African conservationists and government ministers together in one room and with several members of the government who were on side, we managed to persuade the Ministry of Wildlife that there was an enormous poaching problem in the country and urgent action was needed. We were asked to form a task force to present our findings to the Wildlife Division of the government, who, as a result of such findings, allocated funding to form anti-poaching patrols throughout the country. We are extremely proud to say that this is perhaps our largest achievement to date and we feel directly responsible for helping to save many more previously doomed elephants and halting the ivory trade in Tanzania for a while. The road is a long one but we have made huge headway and seen a commitment from the government.
In 2011, Doctors on Safari was conceived which was our initiative to take 3rd year medical students for a month long medical elective to Tanzania during July & August for several years. in year 1, we chose from a huge number of applications. Two students were chosen by us for July and August for two different locations, so a total of 4 medics in the first year. Our goal? To ascertain what current medical facilities and know-how there was in Mkwaja village just north of Saadani National Park and Kisaki village close to Sable Mountain Lodge in Selous Nyerere park. Following that, the medical students would process that data and set out what was needed in order of priority and how best to go about getting supplies and training nursing personnel. This was a big challenge for our young medics who needed to use initiative in a place with very little knowledge and learn to utilise what was available. Training of village medical personnel was a big part of this initiative. The students were looked after at our Sable Mountain Lodge and Simply Saadani Camp for the duration and rewarded with a safari or two at the end of their elective.