RESPONSIBLE TOURISM

After having experienced these incredible and delicate places, the need for conservation and awareness is even more apparent and imperative to me.

We believe that every traveler who benefits from a visit to a National Park or Wilderness destination has a moral obligation to help to conserve it. We are committed to donate $100 for every client that travels with us to a local, in-country, conservation initiative. Our hope is that you, in turn, will match our donation. Our aim is to leave MORE than just footprints. This is our FOCUS.

Our Statement

Focus Expeditions is wholly-owned by full-time professional nature photographers whose focus is on conservation.  We are committed to making a difference on this planet. We can do this through support of sustainable travel, and by committing ourselves to organizations worldwide whose mission is to preserve, and protect wildlife and fragile habitats.

At Focus Expeditions, we donate funds, our time, our photographs and our photographic work to provide educational presentations worldwide on behalf of the conservation organizations outlined below. We believe that donations make a huge difference. We strongly urge you to do the same – to make a difference in a life.

Pantanal

Logo for the Forest FundReneé and Pete have known and followed Sophia since birth. She shared the Ecuadorian coast with them and, due to inadequate schooling options attended a school set up, in large part, by her mother. It is easy to remember how freely she lived in those days and what an incredibly ‘worldly’ education she received. She was always a sponge, soaking up knowledge and wisdom.
Recently she graduated from Harvard University.
Sophia joined us on our 2016 Pantanal trip in Brazil and wowed us all with a talk on her Forest Fund initiative that she started. As per our Focus Expeditions policy, we donated US$100 per passenger which was more than matched by all trip participants. We feel proud to give something back to such a worthy cause.

Forest Fund is an online platform born in a Harvard dorm room that makes conservation direct, transparent, and accessible to everyone. Our conservation targets privately owned areas in the Brazilian Amazon.

So far, most conservation efforts have focused on working with indigenous communities, protected areas, and forest management. We want to work with private owners to conserve and restore private forests. To put this in perspective: there are 325 million hectares of standing forest in Brazil. 125 million ha are on public lands; 50 million ha are on conservation units; 50 million ha on indigenous lands; and 100 million are on private lands. That’s 30% of the Brazilian Amazon for which conservation efforts are falling short.

We are living in a time where what we want to do is finally possible: all rural properties in Brazil are being demarcated, georeferenced, and registered legally; satellite imaging has improved in quality and is updated regularly; and internet technologies and social media allow us to connect people across the globe in an unprecedented way. We will know who owns each hectare, its state of deforestation, and have the ability to share this information widely.

Our solutions are direct. We are here, in field, understanding local economic realities. This allows us to formulate and pioneer efficient and fair conservation strategies.

Our solutions are transparent. Everything we do is documented in close to real time.

Our solutions are accessible to everyone. We work directly with donors and landowners on our crowdfunding platform. Both stakeholders will mold every new solution we pilot. The pilots that work, we scale.

We have all played our part in driving the destruction of our planet’s forests, now it’s time to break formation.

Sumatra

Logo for the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme

One of our team members, Jami Tarris, worked on a conservation project in Sumatra in November 2015 following the fires that were deliberately started in order to clear land for palm oil plantations. Due to the explosive growth of palm oil agriculture, pristine rainforest is being destroyed at an alarming rate. The rainforest is the primary home for animals endemic only to Indonesia and Malaysia such as the orangutan.

Orangutans are arguably the most intelligent of the great apes and one of our closest relatives. However, because of the ongoing destruction of the remaining rain-forests, they are on the brink of extinction. 

The Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme (SOCP) team, headed up by Director, Dr. Ian Singleton, has dedicated their lives to the future of the Sumatran orangutan. Because forests are being destroyed, and orangutans are tree-dwelling animals,  orangutans are being killed by local farmers in order to clear the land for planting palm oil trees. At the same time, infant orangutans are captured and sold into the illegal pet trade. The staff of SOCP is on call twenty four hours a day in case an orangutan can be rescued.

Focus Expeditions will be offering exclusive trips to Indonesia. With special permission, we will take our groups “behind the scenes” inside the Orangutan Quarantine Centers. These centers serve as a safe haven for rescued orangutans that are rehabilitated and can be re-released back into the wild, or others that require long-term care and cannot be re-released for the foreseeable future. Focus Expeditions will adopt one of these orangutans for every trip member. We will also visit and photograph wild orangutans in the forest.

The name orangutan is of Malayan origin and means “man – or more correctly, ‘person’ – of the forest”. They live only in Southeast Asia on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra, mostly in Indonesia, but also in the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak on Borneo. Orangutans are currently divided into two distinct species: the Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) and the Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii). Both species are on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, a list of the world’s most endangered species that is kept and updated by the World Conservation Union. The IUCN red list recognizes Bornean orangutans as ‘Endangered’, while the Sumatran orangutan is listed as ‘Critically Endangered’. The Sumatran orangutan is considered one of the world’s most endangered species!

SOCP’s vision is to prevent the extinction of the Sumatran orangutan. They do this by habitat protection, rehabilitation and reintroduction of ex-captive orangutans to the wild, education, survey work and scientific research.

Borneo

Logo for the Orangutan Foundation InternationalOur team member Jami Tarris worked on a conservation project in Borneo in late 2015 following the fires that were deliberately started in order to clear land for palm oil plantations. She worked with Orangutan Foundation International (OFI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of wild orangutans and their rainforest habitat.  Established by Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas in 1986, OFI operates Camp Leakey, an orangutan research center, within Tanjung Puting National Park. OFI also runs the Orangutan Care Center and Quarantine (OCCQ) facility in the Dayak village of Pasir Panjang near Pangkalan Bun, which is home to more than 330 displaced orangutans, and helps manage the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve, where rehabilitated wild born ex-captive orangutans were released into the wild.

A portrait of world renown

A portrait of world renown “Trimate” and primatologist Dr. Birute Mary Galdikas and Siswi, a habituated dominant female orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) and “friend” at Camp Leakey in Tanjung Puting National Park, Central Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia

During Jami’s project in Indonesia, she was fortunate to be able to work with Dr. Birute Galdikas, scientist, conservationist, educator. For over four decades Dr. Biruté Mary Galdikas has studied and worked closely with the orangutans of Indonesian Borneo in their natural habitat, and is today the world’s foremost authority on the orangutan. Along with Jane Goodall (chimpanzees), and Dian Fossey (mountain gorillas), Dr.Birute Galdikas was chosen by world renown anthropologist Dr. Louis Leakey to study hominids. These three primatologists were known as “The Trimates” or “Leakey’s Angels”. He secured funding for the three scientists and launched their successful research programs.

Kenya

Logo for the David Sheldrick Wildlife TrustThe African elephant is in trouble. One elephant is killed for its ivory every fifteen minutes.
Every individual elephant matters – we cannot afford to lose one single individual. Focus Expeditions believes in an organization that understands this only too well.

Founded in 1977, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust was founded by Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick D.B.E, in honour of her late husband, famous naturalist and founding Warden of Tsavo East National Park in Kenya, David  Sheldrick MBE. It has achieved world-wide acclaim through a hugely successful elephant and rhino rescue and rehabilitation program. The Orphans’ Project exists to offer hope for the future of Kenya’s threatened elephant and rhino populations as they struggle against the threat of poaching for their ivory and horn, as well as the loss of habitat due to human population pressures,  conflict, and deforestation.

To date, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has successfully rescued and hand-raised over 200 infant elephants through its Orphans’ Project. It is through this life-saving program, that the DSWT has accomplished one of its long term conservation priorities by effectively reintegrating orphans back into the wild herds of Tsavo Conservation Area. These wild herds can claim many healthy wild-born calves from former orphaned elephants that were successfully raised in the care of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

On behalf of every trip participant who travels to Kenya with us, Focus Expeditions adopts one of these orphaned elephant calves. It costs the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust over $900USD per month to care for and feed just one orphaned calf.

During our first night in Nairobi, each of our guests is presented with a certificate of adoption of a baby elephant through the DSWT’s Orphans’ Project Foster Program. We spend one full day in Nairobi before the start of our safari so that we can pay a visit to the DSWT. During a scheduled private group visit, we have the opportunity to spend time with our fostered baby elephants and the Keepers. A DSWT staff member accompanies us and explains the individual rescue stories of each orphan. We will have time with the orphans and will be able to photograph them during this time. We provide a little support to the DSWT Center, but the elephant calves give us so much more in return.

Most of our trip participants adopt additional elephants while we are there. They immediately see what the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is doing to preserve and protect the future of Africa’s elephants.