Fabia Bausch had enjoyed a successful finance career in Switzerland, while Nicolas Negre was a French-born wilderness guide fluent in kiSwahili. They were both looking for a new path in life, and in a chance meeting on a Caribbean island they soon discovered their shared passion for Tanzania.
That passion became reality with the founding of Chem Chem in northern Tanzania, which in 2007 partnered with the Burunge Wildlife Management Area (WMA) to conserve the ancient migratory corridor linking the Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks. It was a region heavily impacted by poaching, illegal logging and human settlement, and the Chem Chem partnership brought new energy and resources to foster the conservation of this fragile ecosystem
But Fabia and Nicolas were equally passionate about sharing this beautiful corner of Africa. Today, hidden amid these 55 000-acres of restored Tanzanian wilderness are a trio of intimate lodges, and guests at Chem Chem Lodge, Little Chem Chem and Forest Chem Chem enjoy a unique safari experience combining memorable wildlife sightings with the chance to interact with local communities.
Because ensuring that local communities reap the benefits of conservation is key to the long-term sustainability of protecting Africa’s wild spaces. From the very beginning Chem Chem has been founded on establishing mutually-beneficial partnerships with surrounding villages.
“If we want to conserve wildlife areas across Africa our biggest threat is loss of habitat, and we have to find a way that everyone can benefit from conserving the landscape,” explains Nicolas. “In building strong relationships with the surrounding communities, we create a win-win situation for wildlife, habitat, communities and our guests.”
Alongside the concession fees paid to the surrounding communities, Chem Chem also strives to create employment opportunities. Today Chem Chem employs more than 200 locals, most of whom support large extended families in the surrounding villages.
Further, through the Chem Chem Association (CCA) a range of innovative education, conservation and community engagement projects aim to empower and uplift the surrounding rural communities.
“It’s about working together with the local people,” adds Fabia. “You need to be on the same journey. You have to be open, trusting and creative. It takes time, but it shows that conservation and tourism can work hand-in-hand with communities, for the benefit of all.”