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Enterprise

Tour guide taps social media to sell wildlife pictures

Gilbert Kiptalam
Gilbert Kiptalam poses for a photo at a game reserve. PHOTO | COURTESY 

While working as a tour guide Gilbert Kiptalam noticed that not all people who wanted to visit attractive wildlife sites in Kenya had enough funds to do so.

This spurred him to venture into the wildlife photography business.

“There was this visitor who said that she had saved money for 13 years to travel to Kenya to see wildlife and other attractions. I realised that not everyone could afford to visit our beautiful sites. I set out to fill this gap,” recalled the director of Gilbert Wildlife.

His enterprise involves taking pictures and videos and selling them online.

“I was surprised that some people liked my photographs. That is when I realised that I could sell them,” he said.

Mr Kiptalam holds a diploma in wildlife management from the Kenya Wildlife Service Training Institute in Naivasha. The 36-year-old entrepreneur said he set up his enterprise with a seed capital of Sh500,000.

In 2016, he bought a camera, computer, acquired an office and started taking pictures of wild animals which he posted on social media. For instance instead of splashing about Sh1 million on a trip to Kenya, a tourist can spend Sh400,000 on high quality photographs and videos.

“I realised that some visitors were also interested in quality photographs or videos besides visiting local sceneries. Such offer a ready market,” he said.

Some of his clients — particularly based in European countries such as France, Spain and Germany — instruct him online on what they need.

“They give specifications of animal species, type of camera to use, the time of day to take photos and even the angle of the shots,” he said.

His business has grown to employ a team of five including an IT expert who developed the website and manages it, a wildlife guru, and a tourism and tours specialist. The firm also boosts of two vehicles which enable them to move around.

Mr Kiptalam said he makes about Sh10 million during the peak tourism period — between June and October.

“Some researchers are keen on various species such as butterflies and birds. This is one key area that we are yet to fully exploit,” he said.

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