EV safaris promise cleaner, quieter wildlife tours

Safaris can help you see nature, but they also tend to disturb it – the loud and smelly vehicles involved can disturb animals and harm the environment in the process. However, they quickly become less intrusive. Reuters Remarks that the Kenyan-Swedish company Opibus is converting diesel and gas safari vehicles in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve to electric models.

Converted EVs are not only quieter, but don’t growl or spit out foul odors that could alarm animals (or even make cyclists uncomfortable). Many other advantages of electric cars also apply here. Opibus conversions produce no CO2 emissions, and the company says electric motors cut operating costs in half by abandoning fuel and other maintenance associated with gasoline and diesel engines.

Opibus is the only company carrying out these conversions in Kenya, and it has electrified only 10 vehicles so far. The deployment of electric safari vehicles also presents practical challenges. African power grids are not always reliable, and charging an EV in a nature reserve is not as easy as finding a public charging station. There’s also a simple question of autonomy: Safari companies can’t necessarily afford downtime to recharge vehicles between visits.

Even so, it is easy to imagine that electric vehicles are widely adopted in Kenya, South Africa and other countries where safari tourism is vital. The less intrusive the vehicles, the more likely it is that wildlife will continue unimpeded. It’s good for animals and tourists hoping to spot elephants and lions that might otherwise stay away.

This article by J. Fingas originally appeared on Committed.

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