May 31, 2022
The Art of Conservation: An Alternative Approach to Wildlife Tourism
Created on the foundations of ethical tourism, Art of Africa provides platforms which support both community and conservation, in a holistic fashion. Through the use of creativity, AOA provides non-voyeuristic and non-invasive solutions to the exploitation of both humans and wildlife local to an area.
Victoria Falls is a world renowned tourist destination, its population relying on tourist revenue. Companies of the past, and those that still exist, have taken great advantage over local lifestyle and surrounding African Wildlife to maintain a living. The exploitation of animals is a money maker, so moving away from this source of income overrides moral obligation/perspective.
AOA has created a solution of observation, encouraging clients to interact with their surroundings through art. The impact of this is multi-dimensional – improving one’s ability to truly engage in the moment, while acquiring a deeper understanding of the ecological and cultural impacts of the surrounding area, or country as a whole. Utilizing local resources and wildlife areas to enhance one’s African journey, connecting people to their experiences on a personal level, and taking away only their memories captured with brush and paint.
Maintaining employment and funding within the world of animal sanctuaries while avoiding exploitation is key. These art sessions allow for continued support, as well as presenting an opportunity for conservation education through art. Working with companies such as Wild Horizons in Zimbabwe and Safpar in Zambia who have moved away from riding their elephants, their new approach being:
Observe, Experience, Conserve!
The collaboration between AOA and companies allow for the much sought sustainable solution to the problem of wildlife tourism. Maintaining funding, care and creating a platform for conservation awareness, we hope to implement this solution throughout Africa, with the hope of influencing beyond.
Outdoor Studios, Inner Journeys and a Lesson in Conservation
The Art of Africa and Wild Horizons’ experience of painting with the elephants at the Elephant Sanctuary is a sensory exploration, as well as a lesson in conservation education. Based on the foundations of ethical tourism, the activity is holistic yet unobtrusive in nature, observing and learning from a respectable distance to the herd. With easels set up beneath the mopane trees and upon the observation deck, guests are led through the bush to begin their creative journey – often more trepidation about painting than being seated in front of a herd of African elephant!
Through active participation, guests are encouraged to familiarise themselves with art, their immediate environment, and the importance of conservation. This mindfulness allows them to connect to nature while reconnecting to themselves, using creativity as a channel to express, a skill many of us have forgotten. There is something about nature that unlocks one’s curiosity, allowing for experimentation beyond fear. Here, under the mopane trees and in the presence of elephants, we delve into our inner artist, welcoming the flow of our innate creativity.
Led by a private tutor, guests are guided through an hour workshop and shown step-by-step tips to creating their own masterpiece. Each final product yields completely different results, highlighting our unique perspectives and worldviews. Immersed in the bush, with natural elements forming the fabric of an outdoor studio, the session unfolds organically. The subjects of the workshop are not stationary, the wind perhaps rustling up orange dust, and warthogs scrambling onto the scene adds to the sensory journey – guests relinquishing to the ways of the wild.
Creativity has offered us new routes into understanding our environment, reawakening a link and wisdom of old in its value. Spending time in nature replenishes our respect for the earth, the interconnectedness of our wild spaces and the ecosystems within. Capturing memories with brush and paint simultaneously captures awareness of concepts such as place, dynamics, biodiversity and conservation. Embark on a creative journey, unleashing creativity, learning about the environment through art.