Fabia Bausch Interview
EXPERT Q&A: Fabia Bausch
The owner and operator of Chem Chem Safari Lodge in Tanzania talks about tourism, conservation, and getting involved with the local community to make real change in Africa
By: WHITNEY JAMES
Partners Fabia and Nicolas of Chem Chem Tanzania have each taken a unique path towards a shared vision: to create a sanctuary in their beloved African wilderness. “We wanted to fulfil our dream of creating a place that not only protects a valuable migration route, but also allows you to slow down…to take the time to immerse yourself in precious moments,” says Fabia. “Somewhere you can pause and smell, hear, and discover the rhythm of Africa.”
Q: A Swiss banker meets a French hunting guide, and they turn northern Tanzania upside down with one of the coolest conservation camps. Fabia, how on earth did this happen?
A: We met in 2005 at a friend’s house in the Bahamas. I just quit my banking career, and Nicolas was taking a break from safari guiding to decide what he wanted to do next. When he told me about the idea of getting a wildlife concession to create a true haven for wilderness-lovers, I caught fire. Our love for the wilderness was much bigger than any concerns anybody mentioned to us. As Mark Twain said, “They did not know it was impossible, so they did it.”
Q: What was your inspiration behind Chem Chem; the design, the location, the vision?
A: Chem Chem Wildlife Concession is a place where time, beauty, and pleasure know no boundaries. Underlying this dream is an immense love and respect for nature, an understanding of the current challenges facing today’s precious wildlife, a passion to protect not only animals but their natural habitats, and two sensitive souls that are dedicated to the philosophy that real-life experiences far exceed the importance of material possessions.
"An elephant generates over 1.5 million USD in tourism dollars during his life. This is a message that needs to be carried out to the local communities here."
Q: And what makes your camp different from other camps in this area?
A: We have devoted all our time and energy into a Wildlife Management Area, the area between a national park and the communities. By doing this we make sure that the surrounding communities benefit from our guests, i.e. from conservation. Our guests, on the other hand, enjoy 50,000 acres of wilderness just for them. This offers our guests the freedom to explore on foot an unfenced conservation corridor that few can experience.
Q: How is Chem Chem actively participating in conservation in Africa?
A: We employ over 50 rangers who protect the entire reserve. The area we are in is the last migration corridor between the Tarangire and Manyara ecosystems, still alive and well. We have to do everything we can to make sure this highly important link between these two ecosystems remains protected. But conservation work entails community involvement in order for there to be wilderness protection. Through our foundation, LiveWildLife, we strive to help the surrounding communities to improve their quality of life through conservation. We are building hundreds of “life-Bomas,” local huts with a fence built from dried-out tree branches and chicken wire. This (a) stops the communities from cutting all the trees in the area as ordinary fences and (b) ensures lions cannot enter the area where their cattle graze. We’ve also drilled wells, built schools, and helped with building their homes.
"We wanted to [create] a place that not only protects a valuable migration route, but also allows you to slow down…to take the time to immerse yourself in precious moments. Somewhere you can pause and smell, hear, and discover the rhythm of Africa."
Q: You mentioned education playing a crucial role in conservation. Can you expand?
A: Sustainable environmental protection is only possible when people are able to recognize, through education, the importance of wildlife and the potential it has for their future. Our work is devoted to educating communities, especially children, towards a sustainable future. We believe that supporting education and protecting wildlife forms a perfect symbiosis where Tanzanians determine their own land use while the local ecosystem, with its unique biodiversity, remains in balance.
In the nearby school that we built, we painted frescoes with the kids to help spread the message that by protecting the environment, you will have a better life. We have created different games to heighten the kids’ awareness of the importance of protecting wild animals. Our guests do visit the school on a regular basis, and through that the kids interact with Western guests and hear how much they love the wild animals.
Q: When guests visit Chem Chem, what is the most memorable part of their experience?
A: Our guests love our very personal and tranquil atmosphere, as we are one of the only owner-run luxury camps in Tanzania. They love the exclusivity of the place, and the fact that they can meet the local community in a leisurely, unstaged way. The fact is that when guests stay with us, they are directly supporting a very important conservation and community project. This is a wonderful balance that needs to remain intact if we want elephants to continue to have a peaceful place on our planet.
Want to know more about Chem Chem Tanzania? Give us a call at 1.888.870.0903 to chat with one of our specialists.
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Fabia Bausch Interview
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