|Mention 'Africa' and most travelers
conjure up images of wild animals and safaris. These activities have been
highly successful in East Africa - home to the great herds that inhabit
the Serengeti. But Africa is a huge continent, comprising 54 countries.
Wildlife can be found everywhere, but it is often shy and reclusive, requiring
patience to find it.
However, the true wealth of Africa
lies in its rich cultural diversity ... and nowhere is this more evident
than in West Africa where many diverse cultures exist side by side.
||Centuries-old values have survived
in the form of numerous traditional ceremonies. Imagine the majesty of
a full ceremonial procession of an Akan king, laden with ancestral gold
and accompanied by the full retinue of his royal court, dancers, drummers,
poets, linguists and warriors.
History comes alive in the walls
of ancient castles and forts from the colonial era when the tragic commerce
of slavery was an acceptable reality.
|Now more than ever, emerging nations
on this vast continent struggle to preserve their cultural heritage - but
they are also eager to share it with the rest of the world.
|Here too is the exotic world of
the tropical rain forest, home to bashful animals, colorful butterflies,
ancient trees, and a profusion of birds. It presents a challenge to the
wildlife photographer, demanding patience, stamina and persistence.
Photography provides a window
into this world, and increases awareness of the rapid destruction of habitat
and depletion of natural resources throughout the world. "Eco-Tourism"
encompasses more than the preservation of wildlife and habitat. It also
relates to the preservation of culture.
'African Rodeo' *
Stay on for 8 seconds and you win!
|Eco-Tourism programs in East Africa
generate a substantial amount of foreign revenue, but these highly successful
ventures have not been without a price. The volume of visitors has created
stress for the wildlife, and local ethnic groups have experienced cultural
erosion with very little economic benefit.
|We must ensure that future programs
learn from past mistakes; it is imperative they include the indigenous
population and that they derive direct income at the village level. Such
measures provide important incentives for preservation of these natural