Wednesday, April 1st 2020, 5:20 am - The benefits of wildlife tourism
Courtesy: Getty Images
Travelling and dilemmas pair like peanut butter and jelly – from the simple, how much do you tip service staff, to the ethical, do you show compassion to a panhandler? With the increase in wildlife tourism, travellers have a new dilemma. Do you support it or avoid it?
Images of a tourist posing with a tranquillized tiger or riding a beaten down elephant have damaged the category. But these are not authentic experiences. And unlike trying to figure out if a panhandler is a scam artist or in need of help, a traveller can quickly identify respectable wildlife tourism organizations in a travel category rich with benefits.
The planet has reached a tipping point where animals appear on an endangered or extinction list at a worrying rate. It’s up to us to reverse this trend by changing how we interact with animals to guarantee their survival. Just like onions, carrots and celery are the holy trinity in French cooking, choosing a wildlife tourism organization should uphold nature’s holy trinity – to conserve, protect and enhance the lives of fauna.
Courtesy of Globus
Arguably, supporting nature instead of impeding it is the most significant benefit of wildlife tourism. Nothing beats the experience of an elephant wandering through your base camp or seeing a tiger in its natural habitat. It’s through these experiences that wildlife tourism has the added value of educating travellers about pertinent environmental issues that go beyond the recycle box. A trustworthy travel host will explain the steps they are taking to protect nature’s living space.
This could be through environmental management or having a conversation about preserving the habitat while setting up safe poacher-free sanctuaries. Tour organizers should be transparent with these initiatives, if they don’t mention, then ask. Look at Globus for instance, “We ensure all tour interactions with wildlife conserves their health, safety and long-term viability,” explains Chris Jones of Globus. “We really take pride in ensuring that nature’s wonders are kept intact for future generations to enjoy.”
Nature is also good for you. There’s a reason why stop and smell the roses is a cliché. Vacationing in nature is a makeover for the brain. Many psychologists theorize that it has a mental healing effect. To test this, look at a picture of a natural setting. Do you feel pounds of stress melting away?
Courtesy of Globus
Wildlife tourism also supports low-income communities by opening doors to better employment for locals. It takes the gun from a potential poacher’s hands and replaces it with education. They become the protector instead of the neglector, giving those rare beautiful animals a chance to fight for their survival naturally.
There are also cause and effect benefits. When governments see the economic payback of their own wildlife, the effect is an incentive to conserve it. Our desire to see these animals while practicing responsibility is a significant factor in government’s finding the resources to save them.
Responsible wildlife tourism is an experience that alters the way humans interact with wildlife. By supporting it, you are doing your part to change the perception from “see it while you can” to, “see it now so future generations can.” Just remember to pack according to the weather and bring extra sunscreen. You need to be protected too.