African Animal Preconceptions 

By Hunter O’Malley

During the safari a moral question came to me: is it responsible to play into U.S. American preconceptions about Africa rather than showing what Senegal is actually like?
In the 1500 hectares enclosure, nonnative animal were kept in an environment where they do not naturally belong. To me it had an artificial feel. The guide explained to the group that some of the animals were not native to Senegal and were brought over by plane to the sanctuary. 
Many people want to go to Africa to see the animals they see on TV and leave. Sanctuaries attract most of the tourists and leave real wildlife alone. It is tough to see many of these animals in the wild. Someone might just see a gazelle and thats it. But when they go to a sanctuary they pay to see everything.
I personally have experienced both the Wild and the sanctuary. The latter was so disappointing to me. You see everything on your list but you get the sense that it was a zoo with no gates. When I was on safari in Tanzania I would see one animal and it made me feel more accomplished and excited because I saw the real animal in its real environment. I saw what Americans perceive Africa as with all of its animals, but I also saw the animals in their real environment and it was stunning. 

2 thoughts on “African Animal Preconceptions 

  1. I like this, Hunter. You’ve uncovered an irony of modern existence. Sometimes we think we can pay for everything. Pay more, get more. But often the connection isn’t that simple. Sometimes paying more means you get less. I think of the giant yacht we saw in the Andamans on the India trip last year. I came away with a clear sense that the people on the ship, with their catered meals and off-shore luxury, were cheating themselves of the rich experience of really being in the place, talking to the residents, walking through the jungle, eating the food, riding in tuck tucks on the bumpy roads, smelling the smells of Havelock. They may have been more comfortable, but we were really in it. (And I know we spent a lot less money.) Good work on asking questions and making connections–with your ideas, your current experiences and previous ones.


  2. Hunter,
    What a keen observation – a zoo with no gates. …….its the tourists living on a schedule bound by time and their preconceived idea of an authentic safari “experience”. Wildlife is only truly wild in the wild…and what a thrill it is indeed to see it up close.


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