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Sanctuary Retreats Philanthropy Project the Bees’ Knees.

July 19, 2017 Responsible Tourism No Comments Email Email

2017 has been the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by the United Nations, and it’s a cause that is close to the heart of boutique luxury travel operator, Sanctuary Retreats.

A commitment to conservation and responsible tourism has been an integral part of the construction of the company’s properties and its daily operations ever since it opened its first camp in Kenya’s Masai Mara in 1999.

Says Michael McCall, Sanctuary Retreats’ Director of Sales Australia, NZ & Asia, “Our philanthropic arm, Sanctuary Retreats Philanthropy, supports a wide variety of conservation initiatives. Our goal is to identify and sponsor long-term, viable and self-sustaining projects which have the support of our staff, visitors and the local communities in which we operate, but more importantly, ones which we hope will actually have a positive impact on conservation efforts in Africa.”

According to Michael, alongside major projects like its Rhino and Cheetah conservation programs in Botswana and the Serengeti respectively, sometimes it’s the little things that can make a real difference.

Sanctuary Retreats Philanthropy’s Mwika Beekeeping project is one such example. Working with the Mwika village, located on the western border of Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park, it currently supports a grassroots beekeeping initiative, the aim of which is to promote conservation of the environment and income generation for the community.

Says Michael, “We knew from our discussions with the village chief that beekeeping was something which had significant potential to provide a stable income and food source for villagers. However, we also identified that traditional methods involving stripping trees of bark to make hives, left trees vulnerable to disease. So we supported the villagers by helping them switch the material used in beehives production to sustainably sourced wood, which has meant they have been able to continue producing honey while preserving indigenous plants.

“Through this project, Sanctuary Retreats Philanthropy and our guests we hope to transform lives of Mwika villagers. Not only is the honey a healthy and nutritious food source, but the income generated through sales will give beekeepers and their families the means to improve their lives and livelihoods.”

Michael believes the project has also been important from an educational perspective. “Bees have a vital role to play in the Tarangire eco-system, in the process of pollinating both wild flowers and farmed crops. So the project has enabled us to teach people about the importance of bees and their role in the conservation of the environment.”

So far, with the help of donations from guests at nearby Sanctuary Swala, Sanctuary Retreats Philanthropy has been able to provide more than 30 sustainable hives, as well as donating vital equipment to the beekeepers. And, as a result, Mwika villagers are on track to harvest their largest ever batch of honey.

Michael is delighted to report that the first batch of honey from Mwika will be available for purchase at Sanctuary Swala and Sanctuary Kusini, as well as Arusha’s local farmers’ markets, in the coming months.

Guests staying at Sanctuary Swala an also visit the Mwika village to learn more about the project and to interact with the local community.

Sanctuary Swala Camp, Tanzania from US$485 per person per night for 1 – 2 nights.

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