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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.

 Robert Burch Communications
 Robert Burch Communications 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.
 Robert Burch Communications
'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 wonders.