Moreton Bay’s 50,000 Frequent Flyers

Moreton Bay’s Ramsar Wetlands

Moreton Bay Frequent FlyersEach summer, Moreton Bay near Brisbane is visited by some 50,000 migratory shorebirds. To get here, they fly thousands of kilometres from wetlands in the northern hemisphere along the East Asian–Australasian Flyway.

More than forty shorebird species frequent Moreton Bay including thirty species of migratory birds such as sandpipers, tattlers and godwits. The largest and most easily identified visitor is the Eastern Curlew notable for its long curved bill.

At low tide, shorebirds wander over exposed sandbanks, seagrass beds and mudflats to feed. When these areas are covered by the rising tide, the birds move to viewable roosting areas where they gather in hundreds.

shorebirds

Eastern Curlew

During the southern hemisphere’s winter, when migratory birds are visiting China, Siberia and Alaska, there are still plenty of resident seabirds and shorebirds in Moreton Bay including terns, oystercatchers, herons, egrets and cormorants.

Moreton Bay’s diverse wetlands ecology has been internationally recognized under the Ramsar Convention since 1993.  An area of 113,000 ha, including most of the southern Bay, is protected for many reasons including environmentally important populations of shorebirds, dugongs, green turtles and loggerhead turtles.

mapHumpback wales occasionally enter Moreton Bay on their southern journey each September before heading down the ocean side of North Stradbroke Island which can be accessed by vehicular ferry from Cleveland’s Toondah Harbour.

Redland City (including North Stradbroke Island) embraces southern Moreton Bay and its Ramsar wetlands. The 10 km coastline between Cleveland Point and Redland Bay is largely unspoilt by the development that has blighted many other coastal areas in Queensland.  Parks and extensive foreshore walkways provide excellent opportunities for viewing Moreton Bay’s rich bird life.  As a bonus, the coastal vegetation includes many trees that are home to Redland City’s significant population of koalas.

Toondah_Revised_Perspective1

Artists Impression of Toondah Plan

This area of national environmental significance is threatened by the Redland City Council and Queensland Government’s plans for massive coastal development at Toondah Harbour in Cleveland and Weinam Creek in Redland Bay.  Proposed developments at Cleveland include a 400 berth marina which would destroy seagrass beds, mudflats and mangroves all of which are important habitats for the area’s shorebirds, dugongs and turtles.

koala

Koala in Cleveland

Local resident and environmental groups would prefer the Council and Government to focus on sharing Moreton Bay’s Ramsar wetlands and unique wildlife with tourists from around the world. Where else can you drive less than one hour from a major international airport to vantage points where you can easily view an amazing variety of shorebirds and often see koalas as well?

For more information go to: www.redlands2030.net

Author: Chris Walker



Savannah Guides School

Savannah GuidesSavannah Guides have scheduled a new workshop

“Guiding Skills In The Kimberley”

Date:  9th to 12th October

This is a four day workshop which will showcase the dramatic landscape of the region as well as it’s history and enormous tourism future.

Savannah Guides Limited develops the skills and careers of tour guides.  It is a non-profit, member based network of tourguides and operators that works with its partners to support “Protectors and Interpreters of the Outback”.

This El Questro Savannah Guides School will provide valuable skills training and networking for guides and friends from across northern Australia.  Most of the time will be spent in the field exploring spectacular landscapes and learning about the incredible Kimberley region.

***Download the pdf for more infoInfo-El-Questro



How networks lead to breakthroughs!

 How networks lead to breakthroughs!


EchidnaWalkaboutKoalaKARENWildlife Tour Operator’s koala research paper accepted by scientific conference.

Sixteen years of looking up koala’s noses. Sixteen years of hand-drawn diagrams of nearly 100 koalas, and over 19,000 photographs. Thousands of koala sightings on hard copy maps in the early years, then the wonderous ease of GPS locations on mobile phones. Sixteen years of wondering whether a discovery made on a wildlife tour would ever be useful for the protection of koalas Australia-wide.

Finally, a breakthrough.

Echidna Walkabout’s first scientific paper: “As plain as the nose on their face: Efficacy of nostril pigment patterns in identifying individual koalas” has been accepted for presentation at the Pathways 2014 conference on Human Dimensions Of Wildlife in Colorado, USA. This is a huge leap for the Melbourne-based wildlife tour operator. For non-scientists, presenting and publishing a wildlife discovery to the scientific community is difficult. It couldn’t have happened without the input and encouragement of one very special man – Assistant Professor Jeff Skibins of Kansas State University.

EchidnaWalkabout_koalabookJanine & Roger of Echidna Walkabout met Dr Jeff Skibins at the Wildlife Tourism Workshop in Darwin in 2013. Jeff delivered the most inspiring presentation: a call to action for wildlife and eco-tour operators to upsell, publicize, and shout out to the world about how great wildlife tourism is for people, wildlife and the planet! Janine & Roger were so motivated by Jeff’s talk that they stayed in contact, and ultimately took Jeff on their tour. On tour Roger explained how they had discovered a method of identifying wild koalas from their nose patterns. Later Jeff did some research, and found that this discovery was a first for koala science. He encouraged Janine to write the paper, with himself and a colleague – Dr Peg McBee – as co-authors. Jeff and Peg have checked the data collected by Echidna Walkabout on their wildlife tours and pronounced it to be ‘very strong’.


pat250214p01textThe Pathways conference brings together wildlife professionals from all over the world to discuss how human behaviour affects wildlife management and conservation. Over 100 researchers presented at the 2012 conference, and around 500 delegates attended. Great Bustards in Mongolia, lions in Kenya, tigers in India, Monk Parakeets in Argentina and coyotes in US were all discussed. Jeff Skibins lectured on the influence of wildlife tourism on tourists, particularly on their subsequent conservation behaviour. For 2014, Janine, Jeff & Peg’s paper has been accepted by the conference committee, who proclaimed it to be ‘both interesting and relevant’.

Echidna Walkabout’s presence at the 2014 conference will be an exciting voice demonstrating that Australian wildlife tourism is a leader in the field of conservation tourism.

Wildlife Tourism Australia brought the network together that made this breakthrough.

 

 
 


Flying Foxes in Cairns

Spectacled flying foxes by the library before their trees were hacked into.

Spectacled flying foxes by the library before their trees were hacked into (photo Araucaria Ecotours).

Flying Foxes in Cairns

Maree Treadwell (WTA committee member)

Australia has a high biodiversity of wildlife, much of which can actually be found in our cities, which is great for our international visitors. While birds provide plenty of opportunities to see the more common varieties in the city, mammals are mostly cryptic or nocturnal or both. However there is one type of mammal, the flying fox a large mega-bat, that calls our cities home.
Flying foxes are not found in Europe, non-tropical Asia or anywhere in the Americas so they are a novel experience for many  of our visitors. Their spectacular evening fly-outs are a wildlife highlight of many a traveller’s Australian trip.

Flying foxes are keystone species moving seeds of rainforest and other trees from one isolated patch of rainforest to another and are a significant long distance pollinator of rainforest and hardwood forests particularly of eucalypts and related trees. They are migratory or nomadic, following the flowering of their food trees, many of which have irregular flowering which varies from year to year in both quality and quantity and in distribution. So a single flying fox can travel 40 km in a night and over 1,000 km in a year. The flying fox you see one year in Brisbane may be the one you see in Melbourne the next.

There are four species of large flying fox in Australia, found from northern WA, across the top end and down the east coast of Australia from Queensland to Melbourne and west to Adelaide. One species, the little red flying fox is also found in inland Australia following flowering along water courses but often visits the camps of its coastal cousins as far south as northern Victoria, stays a few weeks and then moves on. Two of the four species, the Grey-headed Flying-fox and the Spectacled Flying–fox, are listed as vulnerable under the Commonwealth EPBC Act, the main environmental protection act in Australia. The grey-headed flying-fox ranges from Ingham in Queensland down the east coast of Australia and west across Victoria to Adelaide, many of its camps located in cities, often in botanical gardens or by rivers or coastal mangroves. It is the only endemic flying-fox. The spectacled flying-fox is confined to wet tropics in Queensland in Australia but extends into Papua- New Guinea. The remaining species, the Black Flying-fox, is found in northern Australia, from WA across the Top End, throughout Queensland and south down the east coast to about Sydney. The different flying fox species often share roosts- In Ingham earlier this year you could see all four species roosting in the botanical gardens.
The great thing for visitors to the major capital cities is that not only can you see the spectacular flyouts, but you can also visit the camps in daytime and observe their daytime behaviour. But in Melbourne and Sydney the flying foxes are no longer in the botanical gardens in the centre of the city, so while you can see them foraging at night in the city you need to travel to the suburbs to see their daytime camps or evening flyouts. This is no hardship because they have selected roosts with both natural beauty and historical significance. Some of our Australian suburbs are worth visiting, especially so when flying foxes are involved.
But in Cairns, a Queensland city that acts as a gateway to both tropical north with its world heritage rainforests and the world heritage listed Great Barrier Reef, you can see Spectacled flying foxes in the middle of town, roosting in the grounds of the beautiful library. You can even stay in the adjacent Novotel hotel and overlook the camps and watch the evening flyout in comfort from your room.
However, there is a sad story to the bats in Cairns. Despite nightly photographing of the flying foxes flying out over Cairns from tourists, despite pleas from well known ecologist, Jane Goodall, and film stars like Glenn Close, despite interstate tourism industry delegates and operators who can see the potential of bat tourism in Cairns, despite the success of bat tourism in North America and other countries, one of the best known being the emergence each summer evening of free tailed bats from under a bridge in Austin, Texas which brings in thousands of visitors per year, Cairns Council dismisses flying foxes as a tourism attraction, one councillor saying that “there may be other places that are reduced to bat tourism …”. (Cairns Post April 2014).

Cairns Council has applied to remove the flying foxes from their roost in heritage listed trees at the Library and has begun a program of “tree trimming”. Because the spectacled flying foxes are listed federally, there are a number of criteria that must be adhered to, one being that work cannot take place if flying foxes are present in the tree. Local film maker team, Noel and Michele Castley Wright, allege that this criteria has been breached, and they have filmed this breach.
The trimming began a few weeks ago (late April 2014) and the bats have come back. Dispersal as a management tool is an ineffective and costly exercise. Most dispersals have not worked- the bats not leaving the local area but becoming scattered and roosting in smaller groups often in inappropriate places. Unless alternative good quality roosting sites are found, the flying foxes will return so long as there are trees to return to Roberts et al 2011).
The Council intends to move them on again, regardless of the stress this may cause to a Commonwealth listed vulnerable species and regardless of the cumulative other dispersals some of which include spectacled flying foxes are happening throughout Queensland. Unfortunately for the flying foxes, while listed at national level, they are not considered threatened at Queensland state level.
Because spectacled flying foxes within Australia are only found in Queensland, continued dispersals of their camps could cause local extinctions and possibly extinction within Queensland and thus Australia. And how are the extra-liminal populations going?
What will this mean for the wet tropics in Queensland? The loss of a keystone species will have an impact on our remaining tropical rainforests.
In the meantime in Cairns, you can still see the flying foxes but the trees they are in are a mess and the street scape once so nice and treed is now so ugly- what must tourists and visitors to Cairns think?

Roberts B.J., Eby P., Catterall C.C., Kanowski J.K. and Bennett G. (2011) The outcomes and
costs of relocating flying-fox camps: insights from the case of Maclean, Australia, pp. 277-287 in
The Biology and Conservation of Australasian Bats, edited by B. Law, P. Eby, D. Lunney and L.
Lumsden. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman.



EXPLORING BIODIVERSITY AS CULTURAL VALUE

 

EXPLORING BIODIVERSITY AS CULTURAL VALUE

An interesting seminar to be hosted by the University of Sydney next month

16 June, 2014
12:00-2:00pm

ALL WELCOME
This is a Free Event.
RSVP Essential

Seminar Featuring John Miller and Robert McKay 

http://sydney.edu.au/arts/research/harn/news_events/events.shtml?id=2785

From their website:

To whom does extinction matter, why, and how? Answers to these questions often rely on a principle of concealed usefulness. In this outlook, biodiversity represents a vast data bank of genetic information that contains an array of undiscovered possibilities for medicine or industry. A striking contrast to this hard-nosed, market-driven approach resides in the emotional attachment to certain species, or to the natural world more generally, that motivates many conservation campaigns. Such reasoning, though widely on show, has the disadvantage of appearing vague, sentimental and under-theorized. What it highlights is the urgent need for a humanities perspective on the question of biodiversity loss as a key part of the global challenge of responding to climate change.



3 Simple Ways You Can Support Wildlife Conservation at Home

3 Simple Ways You Can Support Wildlife Conservation at Home

by guest wrier Jessica Grospitch

Jessica is dedicated to sustainability and loves to share her eco-friendly initiatives.

You may already donate to wildlife charities and support eco-tourism, but there are some changes you can make in your day-to-day life to help local wildlife and the environment. Home upgrades such as solar panels, energy-saving appliances, green construction practices and other earth-friendly solutions are excellent, but they’re also expensive and time-consuming. While these are good goals for homeowners to work toward, you can begin making these simple changes today.

Home Decor

Think about where your furniture and decor come from, and furnish your home with wildlife and the environment in mind. Deforestation and pollution are major problems that are partially caused by logging to make furniture and other wood supplies. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, around 18 million acres of forest are lost each year to deforestation. ConservationBytes.com reports that Australia has lost 38 percent of its forest coverage since European settlement (that’s 1.5 times the size of Tasmania). Only 15 percent of forests in Australia are currently protected, and 132 of plant and animal species in the Adelaide region have gone extinct since 1836. Forests and natural land provide homes to animals and are important to our delicate ecosystem.

Search for home items that are made from sustainable materials, like bamboo or recycled materials. Wayfair.com.au features many brands that use recycled materials and environmentally friendly manufacturing practices, including Nova Solo, Australia Matting and Raki. Be sure to research any company before buying a new product, so you know exactly where it came from. You can also buy secondhand furniture and decor, repurposed pieces and items made from recycled material or reclaimed wood. Not only are these stylish options, but they cut down on waste that fills our landfills and harms the habitats of endangered wildlife.

Updating Lighting and Saving Energy

Traditional florescent, incandescent and even CFL light bulbs either contain mercury or produce it in their coal factories. When mercury enters the atmosphere, it can be dangerous for humans and wildlife. According to the U.S.’s Natural Resources Defense Council, the fluorescent tubes you see in offices, schools and hospitals contain up to 100 mg of mercury each. These traditional bulbs also use more energy and need to be thrown out more often, creating waste hazards.

LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs not only produce a small fraction of the mercury that incandescent bulbs do, but they reduce energy use and waste. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, LED lights use 75 percent less energy and last at least 25 times as long as standard incandescent bulbs. They also produce very little heat, which saves on cooling costs. Completely switching your home to LED lighting can take some time, but it will save money and energy in the long run.

Create a Wildlife-Friendly Backyard

Many species of native Australian wildlife are threatened by loss of habitat. No matter how large your outdoor space is, keep local wildlife in mind when landscaping and gardening. Providing water and shelter is the most important part of making your yard wildlife-friendly. Consider what kind of animals are native to your region when landscaping.

Photo by Drs via Wikimedia Commons

The South Australian Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources offers some guiding principles for creating a wildlife-friendly outdoor space, including:

  • Use native plants that range in height. Trees and bushes that grow abundantly in your area will provide natural cover for native animals.
  • Use a variety of flowers, and choose types that bloom in different seasons. Having flowers year-round will attract birds, bees and other pollinators and provide food for other animals.
  • Monitor your pets. If you have outdoor pets like dogs and cats, keep them away from your wildlife area. Cats, of course, hunt birds, lizards and insects, while dogs can damage habitats by digging and urinating—and both may scare away birds and other animals.
  • Don’t use chemicals in your lawn and garden care. Use nontoxic, natural solutions when trying to control weeds, pets and fungus. Not only can the chemicals harm your animal visitors, but they can run into water sources and pollute a larger area than just your yard. Attract birds and helpful insects to minimize harmful pests and pull weeds by hand.
 


Wildlife Tourism Workshop in Sydney, November 2014

Wildlife tourism and conservation of biodiversity in parks

wta-logo-bLogo Parallel Partner IUCN WPC Logo SMALLNSWParks_logo

Viewing a king parrot in Lamington National Park near O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat, photo by Araucaria Ecotours

Viewing a king parrot in Lamington National Park near O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, photo by Araucaria Ecotours

Report on Discussions at the Workshop

This workshop was a parallel event of the World Parks Congress,  held the day before the start of the World Parks  Congress, at the Office of Environment and Heritage in Sydney)

The event was  organised jointly by Wildlife Tourism Australia Inc. and the Office of Environment and Heritage, New South Wales.

Topics were briefly presented, delegates discuss the following questions in groups of approximately 8 participants, then all came together into a final plenary discussion to share ideas and information.

Topics discussed included:

  • how can we ensure the conservation of biodiversity as more people flock to our national parks, expecting new kinds of activities and facilities (e.g. accommodation within the parks)
  • how can we best use both old and new technologies for low-impact wildlife viewing that will delight the visitor and enhance understanding of wildlife behaviour and ecology?
  • under what circumstances should interaction with wildlife be allowed within or near parks?
  • what research is most urgently needed in the next five to ten years to ensure adequate conservation of biodiversity, and how can Wildlife Tourism Australia’s research network best contribute to this?
Shingleback skink, Currawinya National Park. Photo Araucaria Ecotours

Shingleback skink, Currawinya National Park. Photo Araucaria Ecotours

Discussions were animated and productive. Below is my attempt to collate all points made by participants and recorded by the scribes assigned to each breakout group.

I would welcome feedback from our delegates as to whether I’ve left anything out.

Comments at the foot of this page are also welcome by delegates and by others who were unable to attend.

Please note: The following report is vey basic.  After the wildlife tourism workshop to be held in Perth on 25th November, I’ll be collating reports on both, and sending some compilations to politicians, tourism associations and wildlife associations. 

1.How can we ensure the conservation of biodiversity with increase in visitation?

Suggested sub-topics:

Research and conservation monitoring associated with new projects – but leave the details of this one for the final discussion point

Learning from case studies from other regions, including other countries

Should we spread the tourism load throughout a protected area, or concentrate it in limited areas o parks, leaving the rest relatively untouched?

How can we reduce tourism impact on parks by making it easier to start nature adventure activities on private and leasehold lands (including assistance with insurance)

Surveys of attitudes of domestic and international tourists and local residents, and brainstorming on how to satisfy their wishes while minimising impacts on biodiversity

Cumulative effects – tourism effects don’t happen in isolation – what other threats could compound problems?

How can tourism revenue best assist conservation?

Report:

General

We need to get the balance right – enough tourists to bring financial support and receive educational and other benefits of the parks experience without impacting too heavily on the wildlife and other biodiversity values

Baseline surveys of fauna, flora and habitat quality should be undertaken and a comprehensive monitoring plan be designed and regularly implemented to watch for impacts and adjust management where necessary

Policies are needed from our own government and international bodies, and incorporated into law, to ensure the protection of biodiversity

Criteria for new activities in the parks should include

  • not spoiling the visual aesthetic values of the park

  • not increasing waste and other undesirable bi-products

  • not decreasing the biodiversity conservation value of the park

  • not impacting on breeding and feeding grounds

  • no negative impacts on waterways

Partnerships and linkages could be developed with neighbouring landowners for off-park conservation and sustainable tourism. This could include the development of buffer zones involving willing participants surrounding parks, and involve mutual benefits (land-owners benefitting from the proximity of the park bringing custom and increasing the biodiversity values of their own property, and the park benefitting from the tourism pressure being spread, additional education of visitors, and perhaps some financial donations from adjacent commercial activities, as it was pointed out that when facilities are located outside of National Parks the Park doesn’t get so much revenue from them to use within the parks as they do from private enterprise paying to operate within the Park)

Green internships, green jobs, and other initiatives can assist with such partnerships, and for conservation monitoring, habitat restoration etc. within parks.

The expense of public liability premiums here in Australia is a major stumbling block for landowners who would otherwise welcome tour operators bringing guests in for wildlife-related experiences on their properties. This appears to be less of a problem in many other countries. It was suggested that we review South American and African models.

Philanthropic needs are different between soft adventure’ activities and ecotourist activities – different motivations are involved

Revenue for conservation – the concept of user-pays is good, but those paying (and other interested stakeholders) should have clarity on where the money goes

 

Management

Zoning is important – we need some no-go areas in vulnerable sites, also where relevant seasonal, time of day and other temporary restrictions (e.g. during breeding seasons of some vulnerable species)

‘Sacrificial’ management can establish zoning to provide for added protection in high traffic areas and discourage mass visitation to other parts of the park which will then retain higher conservation value and wilderness experience

Management of visitor numbers to vulnerable areas does not always need to be imposed by enforcing no-go areas, but can often be controlled by planning so that the majority of visitors will naturally congregate in the ‘easier’ areas, with only a small minority making the effort to go beyond the main tourist area

Many visitors will have unrealistic expectations of the variety of animals they will see, especially in a day visit, or how close they will be to them. Managing visitor expectations and experiences is important, before and during their visit.

Conservation and tourism can go hand-in-hand – e.g. wildlife rescue areas

Governments are pushing for accommodation in protected areas which can provide revenue (e.g. for control of weeds and feral animals) but also generates additional problems for wildlife management (water supply, sewerage etc.) and must be very carefully considered in respect to the kinds of criteria mentioned above

Some activities may have impacts not immediately obvious to their participants – e.g. possible impacts of night-time mountain bike-riding on nocturnal animals

Education

Managing visitor expectations and experiences is important

We need to educate politicians as well as the general public on biodiversity and conservation principles. Politician education could involve

  • on-ground involvement

  • invitation and demonstration of parks to politicians

  • showing connectedness of public to parks

Participation by visitors is an important part of education for understanding – getting people involved in conservation activities, citizen science etc.

The role of guides in promoting conservation is important, and we need more information on this (what works, effects on visitor understanding and awareness etc.)

Education should go beyond the actual visit and include pre-visit and post-visit interpretation

Tour operators providing good interpretation can decrease the need to actually see all animals species of interest. The Dolphin Discovery Centre in WA appears to be good at this, and guides who show signs that animals have been there (scratches, tracks, scats etc.) and showing habitat features used by them

Authenticity of experience for visitors is important for impact of interpretation – including interaction with community, rangers, indigenous, researchers, tourism

Good story-telling is an important part of interpretation

Good training of guides and other tour operators, ecolodge staff etc. is important. There si probably much to learn from the training of rangers in South Africa, who learn about animal ecology and behaviour etc.

Exchange of park staff, students, ecotourism staff etc. between countries and between regions within a country would be very useful to earn from each other and exchange ideas

Research

We need adequate baseline studies for subsequent monitoring of impacts. This may commence before proposed new activities or facilities are introduced, or may be “pre-emptive,” gathering data now for any future comparisons even where no changes are yet planned.

Presence/absence of animals is the first essential in a fauna survey, but where possible data on behaviour, health condition and group size can be invaluable

We know far too little about what happens to animals we don’t see (e.g. small ground-frequenting native rodents and marsupials, low-nesting birds and other creatures tourists and tour operators may be unaware of when spotlighting for owls and possums etc.

Research needs to include areas other than scientific – i.e. effectiveness of management, surveys of visitor expectation, satisfaction and effectiveness of education efforts

We need to monitor entire tour experience not just the wildlife experiences

Tourism in parks generally seems to be moving from ‘conservation’ experience to ‘wildlife-related’ soft adventure – experience expectation is changing, and we need to understand and monitor this for effective planning and management

2.How can we best use both old and new technologies for low-impact wildlife viewing?

Suggested sub-topics:

How do we best communicate guidelines for behaviour to visitors of all ages and nationalities, before they leave home, on their way and on arrival?

Minimal impact viewing. Night-scopes, telescopes, hides etc. What else is coming?• Remote viewing of endangered species or those in places difficult or impossible to reach. Webcams at hides in South Africa can be viewed the world over on an online forum, webcams at osprey nest in Brisbane allow viewing at information centres. As discussed at a previous workshop, hotels in remote areas could use webcams or motion-sensing cameras displaying activities e.g. outback water holes or bat fly-ins at dawn, at dawn, nocturnal activity of forest or desert animals, for guests who can’t or don’t wish to make the effort to get close, these could be watched “live” in bedrooms or the hotel restaurant. This might also mean a quieter viewing session at the site itself for those willing and able to make the effort to watch drectly.

Can we offer rewards for good behaviour? e.g. if children can follow a trail quietly for half an hour they get access to a special area.

General

Older technologies (still valuable, and some of which could be used in innovative ways) – viewing platforms, guidebooks, visitor centres, interpretive signs, story-telling (e.g. Indigenous groups), guide only or other restriction

Newer – apps, other digital communication (including digital story-telling), digital maps, live-streaming cameras, night cameras, cable cars, ziplines (which can be environmentally sensitive and educational if well-planned and managed), webcams,

Whole-of-tour models can be used, especially using online social media – pre-tour, during the tour and post-tour

Experience can be enhanced during the course of a day by providing more information on what is seen by visitors, using new technologies

Research is needed on the extent of experiences enjoyed in one day

We need to remember the impact on wildlife of any new development

Can we encourage selfies with posters of animals rather than with the animals themselves?

Equipment for viewing

Infra-red motion-sensing cameras can be used for non-intrusive viewing (less impact than some of the current spotlighting activities)

Bat detectors can awaken awareness of the variety and numbers of microbats in a region

Webcams can be used for customised experiences

How do you manage the pros and cons of social media usage in ‘tagging’ wildlife, e.g. rhino tagging in Africa?

Wildlife hides can allow visitors to be unobtrusively close to animals

Live-streaming of animal activity (e.g. at eagle nests, outback waterholes, fruiting or flowering trees both day and night) could be displayed on screens in visitor centres, local hotels etc. to awaken visitor awareness and appreciation of animals many would otherwise not see, and have less impact than encouraging large numbers of visitors to view them directly

Interpretation

Digital story-telling extends the age-old practice of traditional story-telling

Apps are being developed that can identify from calls or images recorded by visitors and then give interpretation, including stories about the animals. This is good for education of tourists as well as for research

Google glasses – spectacles with cameras, connected to web – can be further developed for interpretation

GPS-driven apps are useful

There is however some move from apps back to website-driven information (Vic tourism)

Use of social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram), can be valuable to enhance information and appreciation

Facebook pages for wild animals can capture people’s hearts and imaginations

3.Under what circumstances should interaction with wildlife be allowed?

Feeding rosellas at O'Reillys (photo Araucaria Ecotours)

Feeding rosellas at O’Reillys (photo Araucaria Ecotours)

Sub-questions:

Some get great satisfaction from interacting with animals (talking to them, feeding, patting, swimming with them etc.), others say we should have no contact. Is it really all- or-nothing?

What are the pros and cons for tourism, the animals, public education and support for conservation?

What is the evidence for effects on animals and on tourists?

What are the most important aspects to consider when making decisions in particular areas?

General

Whatever we do we have some impact, but tourism will not go away and we need no impact as an ideal goal, but realistically minimise

Some visitors have unrealistic expectations, wanting to get close to everything either for photography or interaction, and to be able to feed, cuddle or be photographed with anything

Tourists (and some tour operators need to learn that animals are not for human entertainment

We need to consider differences between various modes of interaction with wildlife – e.g. viewing dolphins from boats compared with swimming with dolphins: differences in impacts on animals, differences in visitor satisfaction and education

Is it necessarily all or nothing? Are there some situations where feeding or interacting is acceptable?

Effects on animals

We must consider where it could interfere with animals’ natural behaviour

Consider using a precautionary approach

People who want a authentic wildlife experience don’t want to see altered behaviour

It is generally best not to feed animals – it can alter their natural behaviour patterns, make them dependent, favour some aggressive species over others etc.

Wild animals being fed are probably better off than those kept in captivity, in that they appear to be making a free choice -e.g. wild dolphins coming in for a feed at Tangalooma or Monkey Mia and parrots coming in to be fed at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat as opposed to those kept in dolphinariums or aviaries.

If planning to feed wildlife for tourist experience, it is important to observe available ‘wildlife encounter’ guidelines available from protected area managers and others (e.g.WIldlife Tourism Australia’s best practice guidelines)

Consider providing plants that provide fruits and flowers for wildlife instead of feeding them – remembering that even this can cause problems if it favours some animals over others, and even the provision of water can do this. If well-planned however it can serve the function of bringing animals close and increasing the probability of viewing them (although not the feeling of interaction with a wild creature that some visitors want)

Vigilance and constant monitoring are needed where animals are fed

Research at Griffith University on bird feeding has indicated less problems than expected in nourishment, dependency etc.

Where education against feeding is not likely to be entirely effective (e.g. family camping grounds), some rangers have developed signage and leaflets to influence visitors to generally avoid feeding but if they can’t resist doing so to use appropriate foods and list those which are acceptable.

Effects on visitors

Does interaction prompt more support for wildlife in some visitors who otherwise would be less interested?

Is it legitimate to create artificial ‘animal encounters’

For conservation purposes, some “ambassadorial” or “sacrificial” animals or habitat areas might be useful in bringing people close to animals and habitats for educational purposes and for a positive bonding and subsequent support for conservation

Education programs (e.g. telling people that although it is okay to feed carefully-selected foods to the animals in a specific site, it is not acceptable in other places and especially in wilderness areas) must be designed to reach all languages and ages and be appropriately repeated (including written signs as well as speech) – many of the people enjoying the feeding experience do not understand rapidly-spoken English, and sometimes the message is given so quickly that those not paying attention miss hearing it even if proficient in English

Feeding is often used to ensure tourists will get the ultimate experience of viewing the wildlife, but some of the pressure can be taken off this demand by other kinds of experience – e.g. scats and tracks, web-cams to see what is going on outside, to avoid disappointment of not seeing the animals themselves

The use of photos with animals is demand driven – we need public education on being alert to conditions that are not acceptable where captive animals are used for this and animal welfare principles are neglected

4.What research is most urgently needed?

Sub-questions:

Impact assessments – how much time is needed for adequate fauna surveys, who asses the assessors, how do we fund the studies? Paid staff plus volunteers plus research students?

Pre-emptive research to enhance understanding of ecological needs (including possible needs for habitat corridors or trans-locating, and the needs of migratory and nomadic species, both terrestrial and marine, and international considerations)

Single species studies and ecosystem/community studies

What animals that tourists and even tour guides are unaware of (e.g. shy understorey birds, small native ground-dwelling mammals) could be impacted while looking for the popular species? How do we find out?

Effects of extreme events on wildlife? Can tourism compound impacts? Can volunteer tourists assist after disasters?

What role can tour guides, tourists and local volunteers play in research and monitoring? (see http://www.wildliferesearchnetwork.org/

General

We need research on baseline conditions and good monitoring plans, for ecological sustainability of tourist activity

How can local people benefit from local tourism opportunities? (e.g. does wildlife tourism assist local economies? Can it induce people to stay longer in regional areas?)

Where should Vietnam (and other developing countries) start with wildlife tourism?

Rather than just focus on ecology, it is important to integrate ecosystem and social research studies

We also need research into how to make connections with nature and wildlife-related

creativity, and research into inspiration

How do we extract more money from tourism operators and travellers to fund research? Is there a move towards philanthropy?

How do we prioritise research needs when there are limited funds available for wildlife research from park management?

Research into the use of new technologies would be useful

Can we promote ecotourism research as an industry, leading to increased political advocacy for researchers

There is much potential for low-cost research by marrying scientific questions with the kind of information needed for conservation management for student projects (final-year undergraduate projects and postgraduate research)

Wildlife Tourism Australia’s Australian Wildlife Research Network includes promotion of citizen science by tourists as well as networking between tourism operations conducting research, and between tourism operations and academic and other professional researchers for mutual benefit

Impacts on wildlife

What are the impacts of tourism activities and new infrastructure on animal behaviour, including both immediate and long term impacts?

Inter-disciplinary research is needed – e.g. linking visitor behaviour with impacts

Ecological impacts on population numbers are important, but so are welfare impacts on individual animals

We don’t know enough about impacts of tourist activities on cryptic species – e.g. small reptiles and mammals of the undergrowth that are not noticed by tourists or tour operators.

Tourism impacts do not occur in isolation to other effects. Which sites are especially vulnerable to climate change that tourism could potentially put additional pressure on?

Under what situations does habituation to human presence happen? When is it good and when not so good? Examples of good: animals use less energy needlessly running away whenever a human appears, birds less likely to desert nests, visitors more likely to see animals. Examples of not so good: animals that learn to associate humans with food and become a nuisance demanding it, predatory animals that become less fearful and may see human children as prey, small animals that become so accustomed to cars they may frequent parking areas and increase danger of collision

Research on tourists

What do visitors expect from wildlife tourism? What kinds of travellers expect viewing to be easy and immediate? How close do they expect to get to animals? What proportion of tourists are interested only in iconic species as opposed to seeing a variety of animals?

Where are the wildlife tourism hotspots?

How do we best interpret relevant concepts for specific sites and different groups of people?

What are the most effective ways of communicating messages to different ages and cultures (including emotional impact and conservation messages, not just simple information about the animals)?

What are the challenges and possibilities for transforming “mass tourism” into ecotourism?

What is the value of good guiding? (visitor satisfaction, conservation messages, changes in visitor behaviour …)

What are the “tipping points” for attitudinal/behavioural change f visitors?

What is the value of “art” in interpretation?

Citizen science

Citizen science occurs in a different context to usual research requirements

How do we best promote citizen science through tourism?

Research and monitoring can make use of social media – e.g. cockatoo wingtag research in Sydney, Fluker posts, bird atlas, Wild about Whales

Legal requirements for research should make sense but they can be counter-intuitive. In Queensland one can identify frog calls as a hobby but if such identification is to be used for research there is a legal requirement for prior approval by an ethics committee, and the same goes for observation of birds etc. In Victoria, even where photographic and GPS evidence is given that an endangered species is present, this evidence is dismissed if the reporter did not first get ethics approval for research, so forest can still be cleared even where presence has been logically established. Where do citizen science observations stand amongst such requirements? (delegates from other countries indicated that these anomalies seemed to be more extreme in Australia than elsewhere)

Ecotourism Australia is now taking control of the National Landscapes program, enhancing the potential for asking big corporations to support important research, and perhaps ultimately giving National Landscapes the status of museums and universities for valid wildlife and wildlife tourism research

Also please visit:

http://www.wildlifetourism.org.au/information/research-literature-2/

http://www.wildliferesearchnetwork.org/

http://www.wildlifetourism.org.au/conservation/policies/

 

 

Organisers:

Logo Parallel Partner IUCN WPC Logo SMALL

wta-logo-b                            NSWParks_logo



Turn a Passion for the Great Outdoors Into an EcoTourism Career

Turn a Passion for the Great Outdoors Into an EcoTourism Career

by Jessica Grospitch

Jessica is dedicated to sustainability and loves to share her eco-friendly initiatives.

The flora and fauna of Australia have a uniqueness that separates them from every other taxonomy of the entire world. Some 80 percent of all plants and animals living in the Land Down Under cannot be found in any other part of the planet, making ecotourism in Australia a viable industry that attracts millions from near and far each year. When you have a passion for conservation and keeping endangered animals from becoming harmed by human presences, how can you turn your interests into a lifelong career? Here are some starting pointers:

Begin as a Volunteer

Just as you can become a CEO of a major corporation by first interning on the ground floor, so too do you get valuable experience and contacts by volunteering for an environmental or animal care organization on the path to an ecotourism career. Volunteers have an advantage over interns in that they can quickly progress to a career path, and are under no scrutiny from Fair Work for their services, as Abc.net.au points out. Volunteer with a zoo, a conservation effort, or a scientific survey and you may get to head out into the wild and experience nature close-up. You can hone skills valuable in ecotourism, like explaining concepts and helping to lead others, while you’re volunteering. WildlifeTourism.org.au has an extensive list of resources for anyone interested in wildlife and eco-tourism jobs, including volunteer opportunities, internships for students or full-time positions.

Educate Yourself

The Australian ecosystem has a great deal of nuances and subtleties that defy easy categorization. For example, the saltwater crocodile lives on the northern coast of the entire continent, but can survive as far as 100 kilometers inland away from the ocean and primary feeding grounds, according to AustralianFauna.com. Any person interested in a career involving animals, conservation, and ecotourism should have a strong scientific background in biology, anatomy, food chains and climate. Students thinking about career paths can plan ahead by looking at accreditation options for animal studies. Penn Foster is one resource that has information about how to earn a license to become a vet tech associate. Another great resource to have is the Wildlife Tourism Handbook e-book for anyone interested in the business, available on Amazon. In veterinary medicine, it’s important to be able to quickly find work upon graduation. Once you have a degree in hand, you can work with animals ranging from 15-foot crocs to pint-sized pets.

Manage People, Manage Ecosystems

Sometimes the best way to find a job working with animals lies in job skills working with humans. After all, every scientist that plunges into the rainforest needs a project manager in order to find funding, plan for the expedition, and help communicate the findings. Working on people skills lets you choose a career path in managing everything from wildlife trusts to tourist excursions, the latter of which can help you to lead any of the six million tourists who visit Australia annually, as the Sydney Morning Herald points out. Whether you’d prefer to work with a small team to find the last known members of a species or you’d rather introduce visitors to cuddly koalas, a career with animals is never less than thrilling. Brush up on leadership skills like public speaking, motivation, planning, and conflict resolution in order to position yourself into a career where you can be calling the shots.

animalconservation



The elusive rufous scrub bird

 

The elusive rufous scrub bird

WTA member Greg Clancy writes about his experiences seeking this little brown bird that forages like a small mammal on the forest floor, and despite its strong voice is quite a challenge to actually find.

http://gregswildliferamblings.blogspot.com.au/



Mt Barney, southeast Queensland, great for walking

Top walks at Mt Barney

Reproduced from an article by Karl C0ndon, Gold Coast Bulletin

[note: although described here as a volcanic summit, Mt Barney , though close to volcanoes it not itself a volcanic cone – it was volcanic larva that cooled underground and was then thrust up by massive earth movements]

IMtBarneySummitCool nights make way for sparkling clear days in the Scenic Rim. There is no better time of year to exhume your walking shoes and head for the hills to do some of the classic walks in the Mt Barney valley than the transition from summer to autumn. The mild weather and clear skies make this the perfect time to “bag a peak” – and there are plenty to choose from amongst the rugged topography that makes up the McPherson Range. The volcanic summit of Mt Barney towers over the many peaks, standing at an impressive 1354m.

If you are unfamiliar with the region, it is an easy 90 minutes drive west from Nerang, and sits close to the NSW border, between Beaudesert and Boonah. Upon leaving the Gold Coast, the leafy drive through the first set of hills – the Green Mountains – immediately transports you into a more relaxed frame of mind, and you definitely know when you are in the Scenic Rim when you pass through the welcoming township of Canungra.

Mt Barney is known as “Queensland’s most impressive peak” – as although it isn’t the highest, its’ alpine-like peak is bare of trees and looks similar to what you may see in a snow-capped alpine area. The area is also very popular with bushwalkers due to the vast areas of off-track bushwalking through pristine protected conservation areas. The park is World Heritage-listed, and contains important remnants of ancient Gondwanan rainforest.

There is a huge variety of walks on offer to experience both the views and the unique landscape. There are easy old 4WD roads to follow on foot, established National Park tracks to peaks, creeks and waterholes, and off-track walks up breezy mountain ridges for the more experienced navigator. For the weekend walker, there are a few good options with tracks to follow as well. Here are my favourites:

Lower Portals

MtBarneyLowerPortalsThis is probably the most popular short walk in the area, as the 40 metre rock gorge and deep waterhole invite you to swim, explore and revisit time and time again. The track leaves from a carpark on the Lower Portals Rd, accessed via Seidenspinner Rd signposted 3.5 km north of Mt Barney Lodge. It is one of the few graded and maintained tracks in the area. The 3.7 km walk rollercoasters over 10 short hills in open eucalypt forest. The walk has features sections of grasstree (Xanthorrhoea johnsonii), and Casaurina in which the threatened Glossy Black-Cockatoo often can be seen feeding. Koala can also be spotted with luck. The walk concludes with a creek crossing requiring sure-footed stepping stone selection, or a deep wade in brisk waters. The gorge itself is found a few hundred metres upstream, and can be reached by two options, another creek wade, or a tricky squeeze through an overhead hole in a cave. Whatever time of year you visit, the arrival swim is best done when you first get there!!

Cronan Creek Cascades

This 6kmwalk follows an old logging trail south from Mt Barney Lodge, and is an easy to moderate walk with good views of Mt Lindesay and Mt Earnest. (A short side trip can be made to the unmarked “Yellowpinch Lookout” via a short steep ascent, and the 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains make this little calf-burner a worthwhile detour. Care must be taken at the summit, as the 60m cliff break is unfenced.) After 30 minutes on the logging track, the first section of cool green rainforest is reached, and the light becomes softer as the overhead canopy changes. The turnoff to Peasants Ridge is ignored on the right, as this is a difficult and unmaintained mountain ascent recommended only for experienced and well prepared bushwalkers. Staying on the left-hand fork of the trail, the Cronan Creek Cascades can be found off the track to the left after approximately 40 minutes. To be really clear on where to turn off the track, be sure to ask the staff at Mt Barney Lodge.

Mt Maroon

MtBarneyWalkingStanding at 967m to the north of Mt Barney, Wahlmoorum (or sand goanna) is one of the more challenging walks that is more of a mountain expedition than a bushwalk. QPWS rates this as a Class 5 Track – in this case a difficult walk requiring a high level of fitness and experience in off-track walking. Although there is a worn foot track to follow most of the way – the trail is not constructed or maintained by QPQS, just by repeat footfall. As there is no track from the saddle to the summit, knowledge of the area and map skills apply. It is essential to prepare your knowledge base before trying this walk, so again talk to the experienced staff at Mt Barney Lodge.

Allow 6 hours, and don’t forget your camera as there are sweeping views of the Scenic Rim from most of this ridge-style walk. The higher you go, the more the surrounding agriculture, farming, bush, dams, waterways and country villages become a patchwork quilt to contemplate from afar. The silhouette of Brisbane and the peak of Mt Warning can even be seen from the summit!

Whatever walk you decide upon, remember to always check weather and QPWS website for any park alerts before leaving home. The Ipswich forecast is most like the Mt Barney weather – remember it can be blue skies over Mt Barney when a different rain system hits the Coast. “Leave No Trace” bushwalking principles should always be top-of-mind during your experience. If you are unfamiliar with what these are, please take the time to look them up so that our shared protected areas can be enjoyed for years to come.

MtBarneyGlampingCampfireMt Barney Lodge is the perfect base to plan your walks from. It is an Advanced Ecotourism retreat right at the base of Mt Barney, and many of the walks commence right from your door. There is accommodation to suit comfort and budget considerations – from camping and Glamping (glamorous camping!), to rustic huts and self-contained Queenslander Homesteads. Mt Barney Lodge also provides local knowledge on walks in the area to its accommodated guests, and sells relevant topographical maps.

Further information:
Mt Barney Lodge – www.mtbarneylodge.com.ay 5544 3233

QPWS (Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service) – www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks/mount-barney

Bureau of Meteorology – www.bom.gov.au/qld/forecasts/secoast.shtml

Leave No Trace Bushwalking Principles – www.lnt.org.au/documents/private/green-guide-to-bushwalking.pdf