Most of us are already aware of the fact that there are so many endangered species in the world. Under the conventional model, we have relied on governments and nonprofits to handle issues like saving wildlife and protecting habitats.
While governments and nonprofits do have an important role to play, there are things consumers can do as well. One example is wildlife tourism. With wildlife tourism, tourists go to observe endangered animals in their natural habitats. The idea is to make the animals and their habitats a valuable resource to the local economy as a way of incentivizing efforts to preserve the populations and the places they live.
Currently, there are several different types of wildlife tourism you can enjoy.
Whale watching is one of the oldest types of responsible wildlife tourism, and the practice is fairly widespread. Whale watching is an activity that involves taking tourists out to sea to observe whales in their natural habitat. As long as tour operators follow the correct guidelines, it can be a great way to generate tourism income while also protecting the whales.
Coastal communities from across the world have benefited from whale watching. The activity can attract tourists, create jobs and instill a sense of pride in the community. This goes a long way toward encouraging these communities to stop practices that may harm whales while also incentivizing efforts toward conservation.
Many people may not realize that tiger hunting is still a real problem. Some people hunt them for their skins, and tiger parts are still valued as an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine. This hunting has pushed all tiger species to the brink of extinction. In fact, there are more tigers in captivity than left living in the wild.
While there are plenty of opportunities to see these animals in captivity, it is much better to support wild tiger reserves. Captive tiger attractions often have poor standards for how they treat the animals, and they do not do anything to help with conservation. When you go to a wild tiger reserve in a place like India, you make tiger tourism jobs sustainable. This helps to give the local community a view that the tigers are a better asset to keep preserved in the forests rather than hunted and sold as a product.
Mountain gorillas are another species under incredible pressure. While the populations have started to rebound in recent years, there are still just over a thousand left in the wild. Most of these gorillas call the forests of Central Africa near Congo, Rwanda and Uganda home. These animals suffer from habitat destruction and conflict with locals. However, wildlife tourism is one way to protect them.
The recent increase in mountain gorilla populations is a small success in the world of wildlife conservation. There is still a long way to go, but wildlife tourism has helped to keep these efforts going. Wildlife tourism helps to fund the conservation parks where the gorillas live and it brings much-needed jobs to the region.
Dolphins can be a popular attraction. So many people adore these creatures and it makes different types of dolphin encounters a significant attraction. While dolphin watching and other dolphin tourism activities can be helpful, you need to be careful. Some of these experiences can be harmful to the dolphins.
One thing to avoid is attractions that hold dolphins in captivity. Additionally, you should not participate in tours that offer close encounters that involve swimming with dolphins. If you want to find an attraction that is good for the dolphins, look for one that has the Dolphin SMART certification from the NOAA.
These are just a few of the different types of animals that have been helped by wildlife tourism. This model has also been applied to elephants, rhinos, sea turtles and polar bears.
While wildlife tourism can be a great way to help these animals while having a nice vacation, you do need to make sure you are only going to attractions that really have the animals’ best interest at heart. Unethical operators do exist, so you should do your homework before planning a trip.