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The Spirit of Big Five Foundation

October 1, 2010

Photo courtesy of Big Five

In the 1800’s, big game hunters in Africa identified the “big five” as the Cape buffalo, lion, leopard, elephant, and black rhinoceros, because to “bag” one of each gave the hunter bragging rights shared by a rarefied few. Over time, many people and organizations realized that if we continue to decimate the animal population of Africa through hunting, there will eventually be none left for sport or sustenance. Today, “bagging the big five” means viewing and photographing them in their natural habitats. This move from shooting bullets to shooting photos was one of the earliest sustainability initiatives in the travel industry. 

photo courtesy of Big Five

Although Big Five Tours & Expeditions has never engaged in hunting trips, its name was derived from those original big five species. For over 37 years they have guided novices into the bush so they can notch their cameras not guns. While they give guests a superlative luxury safari experience in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Southern Africa, they also have a nonprofit arm called the Spirit of Big Five Foundation. The foundation’s mission is “to carry out Big Five’s committment to sustainable tourism through conservation, poverty alleviation, education and healthcare initiatives in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America.” 

Photo courtesy of Big Five

The definition of sustainability is using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged. The Foundation operates under the belief that the travel industry is responsible for helping to sustain the well-being of local people and to protect our planet. They do this by providing small grants and donations to effective organizations and projects with clear connections to protecting cultural and natural heritage, and supporting local communities.  Priority is given to areas where Big Five Tours & Expeditions operates. 

The Spirit of Big Five foundation supports grassroots biodiversity conservation, education, and heath care work around the world that demonstrates how tourism can help protect nature and sustain the well-being of local communities. Here are past and current projects they support: 

Blind Foundation for India – India
More than 13 million people in India are blind; two million of them are children. With the knowledge and equipment now available, up to 80 percent of blindness cases are curable or preventable. 

Edeyo – Haiti
Following the devastating hurricane in January in Haiti, the Spirit of Big Five Foundation is supporting the work of Edeyo, a non-profit working on the ground in Port-au-Prince to help children and their families. 

Photo courtesy of Big Five

Fundacion Galápagos – Galápagos Islands / Ecuador
To help protect the endangered ecosystem in the Galápagos Islands, the Fundacion Galápagos conducts a variety of conservation projects from coastal clean-up to education to recycling solid waste. 

Heritage Watch – Cambodia / Koh Ker
Heritage Watch was founded in 2003 as a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting Cambodia’s cultural heritage. 

Kenya Self-Help Project / Nyashep Education Trust – Kenya / Kendu Bay
More than half of all children in Kendu Bay fail to complete a primary education due to extreme poverty and HIV/AIDS-related parental deaths. 

Lemoenland Educare – South Africa / Western Cape
In 2001, our partner office in South Africa built and established a local pre-school for underprivileged farm workers’ children. 

Southern Environmental Association (SEA) – Central America / Belize
SEA is a community conservation organization working to protect critically important marine protected areas of the Belize Barrier Reef, the largest barrier reef in the Western Hemisphere. 

Veerayatan – India / Bihar
Veerayatan was founded more than 30 years ago in Bihar, India to help provide for some of the poorest of India’s citizens through medical care and education. 

Willoq Andean Village – Peru / Willoq
Big Five Tours, in conjunction with Peruvian Odyssey, has worked with the residents of this small Andean community to improve their living standard. 

Covington Travel shares in the belief that the travel industry and travelers must support the ongoing wellbeing of the people and lands we visit. We are pleased to have Big Five as our featured monthly sponsor and credit the Spirit of Big Five Foundation  as the source of the above information.

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