Ben spent several years managing conservation and social development programmes in various African countries. He represents lodges and tourism operations that are serious about contributing to the welfare of the environment and the indigenous people.
Natural Habitat Adventures
Natural Habitat Adventures are the official 'Conservation Travel Provider' for the World Wildlife Fund US. They were selected for their dedication to the philosophy that every travel experience must include recognition for the importance of wildlife and wilderness protection. Their wildlife expeditions take their guests into some of the most precious and pristine wilderness habitats on the planet and they are extremely serious about protecting these regions and the wildlife found there. WWF scientists often join their expeditions to undertake research and help explain the wonders of the natural world to guests. Natural Habitat Adventures are one of the most exciting and respected wildlife expedition operators in the Americas and their work in promoting conservation generates approximately US$100,000 each year for WWF US.
Big Sky Lodges
Erongo Wilderness Lodge is a founder member of The Erongo Mountain Nature Conservancy, joining 30 private landowners in a collective effort to conserve and protect this natural treasure of over 200 000ha in extent.
The Conservancy’s mission includes the preservation of the rich cultural heritage in the form of rock paintings and engravings that are found throughout the area, such as at the Paula’s Cave rock art site at Erongo Wilderness Lodge. Erongo Wilderness Lodge is nestled amid granite formations on the outskirts of an ancient volcano. These are the Erongo Mountains – a spectacular feature in the heart of a country renowned for it’s scenic beauty.
Flanked by the Namib Desert to the West and mixed-woodland savannah to the East, the mountains form a rare confluence of ecosystems that give rise to remarkable biodiversity, including a vast array of plant, reptile, mammal and bird species that are endemic to Namibia.
Okonjima and the Africat Foundation
The Africat Foundation has rescued over 800 cheetah and leopard from Namibian farmland in just over 10 years. These animals have been found in traps, orphaned by accident or hunters and caged as pets. Africat protects and rehabilitates each animal. The animals are encouraged to hone their hunting skills and become independent in a 10,000 acre rehabilitation camp. Their progress and welfare is monitored constantly using radio-collars and guests are able to participate in the cheetah tracking trail. The success of this method of rehabilitation has been remarkable and the results speak for themselves; 82% of cheetah and 94% of leopard have been successfully released into designated wildlife areas and reserves. Those unable to return to the wild are protected in the Okonjima welfare programme where they can live out their lives in peace.
Africat is dedicated to education and enthusiastically promotes ecologically sound farm management, this is one of their primary methods of increasing tolerance for large carnivores within the community. The Africat Environmental Education Centre exists to expose Namibian youth to the principals of long-term conservation. They are able to visit the centre and learn about the importance of carnivore conservation to their country and the part they can play. This is absolutely vital for the ongoing success of Africat and the future of Namibia's wild cheetah population.
The Africat Foundation survives through the revenues created by guests staying at the Okonjima camps.
For a straighforward explanation of AfriCat and the results of the Foundation's work, please click here.
The Wolwedans Collection
Wolwedans located in the heart of the NamibRand Nature Reserve, is dedicated to providing Namibians with the skills and opportunities to support themselves in the country’s fastest growing industry, tourism.
The collection of desert lodges and camps are predominantly managed by local Namibians who have been promoted on merit through the staff hierarchy, supported and encouraged by Stephan Brückner and his team.
Wolwedans, through the Wolwedans Foundation, supports a number of programmes, which focus on the three key fields of education, conservation and social development. The NamibRand Nature Reserve, one of Southern Africa’s largest private nature reserves, is a leading example of a privately funded nature reserve that ensures the protection of this pristine desert habitat. Every guest at Wolwedans contributes to the ongoing conservation efforts of the reserve team.
The most recent educational projects undertaken by Stephan Brückner are the Desert Academy and ‘nice’ – the Namibian Institute of Culinary Education. Both fully sponsored programmes, are aimed at training young Namibians, theoretically and practically, and in so doing, raising the skills level of the local hospitality workforce and thus the quality of the Namibian hospitality product.
Kicheche is passionate about its local community and has a number of initiatives in place to support the welfare and development of the local people. The Camps provide invaluable support and funding through the Kicheche Community Project (KCP).
KCP supports two local schools - Olkimitare Nursery School & Aitong Primary Academy. In 2007 alone Kicheche has been involved in the building of new classrooms, providing school uniforms, supplying educational materials and supporting teaching staff.
It is possible to pay a visit to either school during term time. Any educational gifts or donations that you can contribute are an enormous help to these struggling schools.
KCP also provides continuous support to the Aitong Medical Clinic, promoting the improvement of the general health standards of the community. Recent projects include getting water from Aitong Spring to the clinic and allocating KCP funds to replace a broken waterpump to access this Spring. Work is ongoing with plans to build a fully equipped delivery ward later in the year.