Wildlife conservation, local communities, and business values
At Oltepesi Tented Safari Camp, we are concerned with sustainable tourism and aim for our business to positively contribute to nature and local communities in Maasai Mara in Kenya. Therefore, we support two non-profit organisations working for wildlife conservation and local health care. Our charitable partners are, respectively, Remembering Wildlife and Right to Sight. Locally we are also hosting Oltepesi Public Pumphouse, a water well provided by the camp for free for all people living in the neighbouring villages. We also support our primary school and other local projects.
Remembering Wildlife is the home of the charity book series, which includes Remembering Elephants, Remembering Rhinos, Remembering Great Apes, Remembering Lions, Remembering Cheetahs, Remembering African Wild Dogs, Remembering Bears, and Remebering Leopards. Their mission is to create the most beautiful books on a species ever made and then sell those books to raise awareness of the plight facing that species and funds to protect it.
The work is made possible by the generous donation of images by many of the world’s best photographers, including Steve Winter, Art Wolfe, Frans Lanting, Brent Stirton, Tim Laman and Jonathan & Angela Scott. Since the first book, “Remembering Elephants,” in 2016, nearly 250 of the world’s best wildlife photographers have generously contributed to the series. It’s an honour that Oltepesi Tented Safari Camp’s founder Arnfinn Johansen also is represented among these top-notch photographers. The project is run by British wildlife photographer Margot Raggett.
Together, the series has distributed more than $1,3 million USD to 63 conservation projects in 27 countries. You can read about where many of the donations have gone here. Oltepesi Tented Safari Camp’s support implies an annual donation of a 5-night / 6-day private wildlife photography safari for two guests on a fully inclusive basis worth USD 7,740. In 2023 we donated two such safaris. Remembering Wildlife sells these safaris at the auction at the annual book launch event at the Royal Geographical Society in London.
RIGHT TO SIGHT
Right to Sight is an international non-profit organisation with programmes for preventing curable blindness on the African continent. The consequences of blindness affect all generations. Children are born with cataracts in both eyes, so it is urgent to identify and operate on them early to preserve sight. In Africa, more than 7 million people have needless blindness. More than half of this blindness is due to cataracts. Using new surgical technology, patients with cataracts can regain their sight, and a 10 minutes operation can cure their blindness at the cost of 25 Euros. In addition, the organisation transfers competence and new technology to African doctors and always trains colleagues when treating patients; this secures sustainability.
Right to Sight Norway only focuses on Kenya. Currently, it supports training programs in Mombasa, with a satellite clinic in Tahita Hills, a mountain range located in the Taita-Taveta County in South-Eastern Kenya, and Kisii.
Oltepesi Tented Safari Camp’s support implies an annual donation of high-quality nature photographs taken by founder and wildlife photographer Arnfinn Johansen. The pictures are sold from an Oslo gallery financing Right to Sight Norway’s training programs and clinics in the Taita-Taveta County in South-Eastern Kenya and Kisii.
In March 2023, we also hosted a team of twelve eye doctors, medical professionals, and students from Norway and Kenya for a period of ten days. During their stay at Oltepesi Tented Safari Camp, we provided transportation and accommodation, enabling them to provide medical care to patients in Mara and the neighbouring conservancies. Throughout their stay, Right to Sight Norway visited 41 villages in the Maasai Mara and screened 433 individuals for various eye diseases, including cataracts – 91 of which were children. Additionally, 95 people were provided with free glasses, many of whom were suffering from severe visual impairment.
PUBLIC WATER WELL, GRASSROOTS INITIATIVES, PRIMARY SCHOOL AND BUSINESS VALUES
In January 2022, Oltepesi Tented Safari Camp drilled a 200-metre-deep well. On March 19th, we had an official opening. In addition to providing water to the camp, the ceremony celebrated that anyone living in the neighbouring villages could come to Oltepesi and fetch water for free. Clean water is a significant health factor in all societies. Furthermore, a well makes life easier because you do not have to go far daily to fetch water, especially during the dry season. About 2,000 people benefit from this in their everyday life.
We are also backing local communities and conservation in the Mara on a general basis. For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, we supported other villages with food and resources on several occasions. We have also supported grassroots conservation projects like the Cheetah Guardian and the Colobus Conservation.
In 2022, we initiated our support for Kag Olare-Owang Academy, a primary school located close to the camp on Oltepesi Hill. Oltepesi Tented Safari Camp is the main sponsor of this school, and by 2024 we are scheduled to finish our first significant project, which entails constructing a new school building. We want to extend our gratitude to all of our guests for their contributions in assisting the school, and we feel privileged to be able to assist the children in our community!
At our camp, Oltepesi, we are also fortunate to have a hard-working, service-minded, and highly skilled staff. All of our employees are local Maasais. We are like a big family, and we all depend on each other in the camp. Unfortunately, during the pandemic in 2020, the camp was closed for six months because there were no travellers to Kenya. But, following our business values, the payment of regular salaries was maintained.
All this aligns with Oltepesi’s desire to promote sustainable tourism. We believe that a prerequisite for successful environmental protection is that it must pay off financially for the local communities to conserve wildlife and nature, as it does here in the Maasai Mara.
If you like to learn more about Oltepesi Tented Safari Camp, you can watch John Siololo’s 5-minute video.