Thursday, August 28, 2008
Peter Jones and Ndarakwai
Where does one start when talking about Peter Jones? That's easy. When you first meet him you think you are seeing a Robert Redford in "Out of Africa" clone , with his safari hat and jacket,long blond hair and squared jaw ruggedness. But he not just a pretty face,far from it.
Pater was raised and educated in Kabul , Afghanistan, where his father worked as an anthropologist and photographer. At an early age, he became skilled in making flint tools and published several academic articles. While still a teenager, he was part of the team of Louis and Mary Leaky when they discovered the Laetoli footprints of the early hominids in Olduvai Gorge. This was one of the great discoveries of paleoanthropology. He later attended Oxford for his Masters bypassing the an undergraduate degree. He taught at Harvard but his heart was in Tanzania so he returned here to become a guide and tour leader.
In 1994 he purchase an 11,000 acre property. At the time it had been overgrazed , the trees had been cut and the animals killed for bush meat and trophies. Through his conservation and anti-poaching efforts at Ndarakwai, the grasslands and forests have recovered and the animals have returned. To see the before and after conditions you only have to go outside the boundary of his property. [I'll post these pictures when I get home]. Land conservation and restoration are only part of the story. Peter has worked with the local community to improve their lives by giving employment, training and helping in the areas of education and nutrition. He donates large sums of money every year to support these programs. The result is a compatible balance between the needs of man and the environment and serves as a model for other conservation projects.
In 2002, Ndarakwai Ranch was opened as an upscale resort tent camp. You can see pictures of the place on their web site and I will post some later. It is a place of tranquility and harmony with nature. This is in sharp contrast with the multitudes of people and vehicles in the nearby national parks. The service , food and accommodations are first class. It offers game drives and also hiking and birding opportunities which are not available in the parks. The article on "Green Tourism" on the AA web site is based in Peter's work at Ndarakwai and the surrounding community.
AA will be partnering with Ndarakwai to offer volunteer opportunities in the areas of training, conservation and research while you are able to live at the ranch You will be able to find them posted on the AA web site next month. Ndarakwai also offers markedly reduced rates for AA volunteers who wish to visit Ndarakwai while working in other areas of Siha.
Next blog : Morning at Ndarakwai.