The Role of Tourism in Conservation
In the 1960’s the wildlife tourism model started to develop, ensuring that tourists were not destroying the wildlife they had come to see ‘Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.’
Predicting the future and what will happen to the wildlife in the up and coming decades is something we can answer now if we carry on as the way things currently are…
We have had a huge collapse in biodiversity across the globe. The planet has lost 52% of its wildlife since 1952, for instance we have lost 97% of the wild tiger population since 1900. If we continue like this, before we know it we will not be able to go to these places to see wildlife, the only nature we and our future generations will be able to see will be in museums or zoo’s. Unfortunately this is the sad reality we face today!!
We have film stars, royals, sports icons and hugely successful entrepreneurs doing their part to support the loss of species by donating millions of dollars to fund conservation projects and stop poaching. But yet all of this is not enough. The ‘small percentage’ of the planet, which is helping and supporting the way we perceive wild animals and wild places is not going to save them from disappearing. Our habits and the way the ‘big percentage’ goes about caring for these animals and wild places will, however, help save the extinction of species.
How can Wildlife tourism play its part in conservation?
Nature tourism and its services, if done right is the absolute solution to saving wildlife such as Tigers. If we protect wildlife we protect landscapes. The tourist has the ability to elevate the wildlife’s worth, giving the locals a steak in their wildlife and national parks, the locals benefitting from nature tourism. The term eco-tourism, which has been used over the years, is dying out and has been watered down over the decades. ‘Conservation Travel’ is a suitable term, which connects the traveler with well-practiced nature tourism.
How can you help when you travel?
Wildlife travel relies on the traveler’s purchasing power and their influence on operators and agents. You as a traveler can support the correct form of nature tourism that benefits the wildlife and its conservation. Bare in mind ‘wildlife’ is wild so touching, feeding and altering natural behavior is a big no no. Do your homework before you book a holiday. Seeing animals in their own environment and displaying natural behavior is what you need to be looking for. If it does not feel right, then the chances are it is not! Ask questions, use your sense and look for operators and agents that are partnered up with established charities, social development and educational projects. Operators that endorse environmental practices, community involvement and governmental and co-operate social responsibility will typically be well practiced in responsible nature tourism.