Archive for the ‘News’ Category


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.
 

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


Destiny Eco-Cottage, southeast Queensland, praised

Destiny Eco-Cottage, southeast Queensland, praised

Stunning views, unique cottages, wildlife and asses.

DestinyRedCottageTim of Eco Safaris had this to say about Destiny Eco-Cottage after visiting:

Laze on your veranda with a drop of local red, watching the pretty-faced wallabies as the sun sets over the valley” – sounds a bit like a corny advertisement, but it’s true. Destiny Boonah Eco Cottages are surrounded by National Park and have glorious views across the Scenic Rim out to the Great Dividing Range.
Destiny Boonah is run by the ever-gregarious Heike. Originally from Germany, a few years back she was travelling in Australia when she came across Boonah. Struck with the beauty of the region, in her words she ‘found her destiny’, and found a way to stay.
Heike has a passion for animals and provides a private ‘eco-tour’ around the property on her 4WD-golf-buggy-cart-like vehicle. It’s at sunset so she can tell you all about the native animals that come out to play. Various types of wallabies are common as well as echidnas, possums, various birdlife including eagles, and the newest resident – ‘Tiger’ the koala!
Destiny_viewBut Heike also has a passion for her asses with her ‘Assquestrian Centre’ (you read right). Heike is one of the good people. She saves mistreated donkeys, treats them like royalty and provides fun and educational donkey sessions for groups.
Oh yeah – the accommodation………. These cute, self-contained cottages have acquired a bunch of eco certified badges. They’re solar powered, beautifully appointed throughout, cozy, well equipped, spacious and of course, spotlessly clean. Different sized cottages are suitable for couples, families and groups.
Destiny has private walking tracks and is only minutes away from Lake Maroon & Lake Moogerah. You’re also just 7km’s to Boonah’s restaurants, shops and two great wineries. Stay 3 nights get a free wildlife tour.


A cuckoo feeds a juvenile

A cuckoo feeds a juvenile

Channel-billed cuckoo feeding on figs: photo Geonature

Channel-billed cuckoo feeding on figs: photo Geonature

by WTA member Ian Black of Geonature

I arrived at Hinterland Park on the Gold Coast early in the morning and could hear the Channel Billed Cuckoo’s as I pulled up into the carpark. Heading straight for the large fruiting fig tree, I found them feeding as was to be expected (right), but they took off to a big old gum tree a hundred meters away on the highest part of the ridge when they noticed me.

I followed the walking trail around to below the gum tree where one of the cuckoos was making a large ruckus and i was trying to take a few photos of the Cuckoo high in the tree when the other cuckoo returned and with great commotion fed the first bird a fig (below). This continued as i watched the adult return and with those large bills, awkwardly feed the one in the gum tree while it screamed for more.

As the Channel Billed Cuckoo is Australia’s largest brood parasite and does not raise its own young I was surprised to watch what seemed to be an adult doing just that.

See the photo of the cuckoo feeding the youngster also here on Skydrive

Channel-billed cuckoo adult feeding juvenile cuckoo

Channel-billed cuckoo adult feeding juvenile cuckoo: photo Geonature


Book Review. Nature-based Tourism and Conservation

Book Review. Nature-based Tourism and Conservation (Tisdell and Wilson)

book covrTisdell, C. and Wilson, C. 2012. Nature-based Tourism and Conservation: New Economic Insights and Case Studies, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham

Review by Ronda Green, Chair of Wildlife Tourism Australia

Ecotourism is often cited as a saviour of wildlife and their habitats, a view that is regarded with skepticism by others. In general the ideas are commendable but we often lack the necessary knowledge of local situations to effectively enhance conservation efforts as well as offering great experiences to tourists and financial gain to operators and the local community.

This volume, based on research since the turn of this century, offers valuable insights and information on the connection between nature tourism and biodiversity conservation from an economic perspective.It is an important bridging aid that should be read by all who are interested in this topic. Those more familiar with the economics of the tourism industry will gain many insights into the complexities of biodiversity conservation, and those more well-versed in conservation biology will be introduced to many aspects of the role of economics in achieving conservation aims through tourism.

Useful economics tools are described, but their limitations for particular situations are also discussed. Assumptions such as consumers always being fully informed and making rational choices for instance are not always valid. Models used for one purpose may need modifications to be used for others. Difficulties of finding answers to what would seem like simple questions are also discussed – e.g. visitation rates to World Heritage listed sites, when some of these sites cover vast areas and have multiple entry points.

The authors point out that many tourists travel to experience natural wonders and to enjoy nature in various other ways, and that such experiences can form an important part of their travel even when not the primary purpose. They ask whether the growth of nature tourism has a positive or negative effect on nature conservation, and caution from the start that there is no simple answer, a theme that is revisited multiple times throughout the work. One case discussed at some length is that of hatchery-raised sea-turtles as a combined tourism-conservation project, demonstrating that it can certainly create an economic return, but although there is potential for positive conservation outcomes, the actual conservation impact (positive or negative) depends very much on how the industry is managed in any particular region, and that there are relevant factors we don’t as yet know in sufficient detail (e.g. survival rate of young turtles hatched in the wild as opposed to those raised in hatcheries, including those kept for lengthy periods before release). A survey of the tourist activity based on turtles coming ashore to lay eggs at Mon Repos in Queensland resulted in a more favourable report for conservation, both in terms of education of visitors and of lack of adverse effects (the authors note that the turtles indeed seem to be increasing there).

An interesting point raised in the first chapter is that Birdlilfe International encourages its members to travel to demonstrate the value of bird and habit conservation. This may at first reading sound a little manipulative, but I see it more as a way of nature-lovers showing the concern they already  feel, and their support for local conservation projects, while being rewarded by an enjoyable holiday or day-trip. Bird watchers and other nature enthusiasts don’t always make it obvious that they are visiting a region (and thus spending on local products and services)  for this pleasure, and so tourism providers, travel agents and local councils may well be unaware of their reasons for being there: maybe  nature-loving tourists could develop a habit of chatting more with hotel staff, service station attendants, waiters and others!

Some of the topics are very relevant to changes happening in Australia’s legislation in the current decade, with several governments wanting to ‘open up’ national parks to increasingly more kinds of tourism activities and facilities, and to downplay the role of biodiversity conservation as opposed to recreation. A survey showed that visitors to a reserve in Far North Queensland were largely opposed  to the development of commercial services and facilities in national parks, although they mostly favoured guided tours within national parks. World Heritage values are hailed in the book as important for national pride in natural areas, and enhancing protection by the federal government. Recent proposed changes to our legislation may see a watering down of the ability of federal government to intervene in matters related to World Heritage, and to the de-listing of some sites.

Conservation costs money, and the concept of national parks making money to be used for conservation management is essentially sound, but the details of how to do so are problematic. Increasing the tourism dollar may not have to depend on introducing more 4WD, horse-riding and accommodation into our national parks. The book points to  a number of opportunities as yet under-utilised, such as more provision for the under-supplied and growing demand for opportunities for sea-bird viewing, and possibilities for insect-based tourism such as butterfly- or fire-fly watching. The authors also present findings on surveys on willingness of visitors to pay for entry into national parks: opposition to the idea includes a feeling that ‘nature should be free’,  that charging for national park entry makes it a more elitist  activity, and that proceeds from those that do charge entry fees go into general government revenue rather than specifically towards conservation management.

Contributions to local economies is an essential component of ecotourism, and also provides incentives to local government to protect natural areas. Research discussed in the book shows where this is well established and places where it is not (for instance the lack of local restaurants and souvenir shops near natural attractions such as glow worm sites).

There are many examples where tourism is contributing to conservation either directly or indirectly, or has a real potential for doing so. There are other cases such as tree-kangaroo viewing in Far North Queensland where group sizes need to be small and the activity is labour-intensive for the guide and to some extent for the tourists themselves, where the tourism dollar is thus currently insufficient to pay for conservation, and government assistance is necessary. The very title of the tree-kangaroo chapter suggests that more revenue could perhaps be raised if the species became more famous amongst tourists. Doubtless there are many other species that could achieve more tourist demand, but many others that never will, and will always need additional sources of revenue.

The concluding remark by the authors in the final chapter is that “Nature-based tourism should not be regarded as a substitute for other policy measures designed to sustain wild biodiversity, but it can be a useful supplement to such efforts.”

The chapters are as follows, and even a casual lance shows what a wide range of topics are addressed:

Part I: Background

1. An Overview of Nature-based Tourism and Conservation

2. The Growing Importance of Nature-based Tourism: Its Evolution and Significant Policy Issues

3. The User-Pays Principle and Conservation in National Parks: Review and Australian Case Study

Part II: Tourism, Protected Areas and Nature Conservation

4. World Heritage Listing of Australian Natural Sites: Effects on Tourism, Economic Value and Conservation

5. Antarctic Tourism: Environmental Concerns and the Importance of Antarctica’s Natural Attractions for Tourists

6. Rainforest Tourists: Wildlife and Other Features Attracting Visitors to Lamington National Park, Australia

7. Are Tourists Rational? Destination Decisions and Other Results from a Survey of Visitors to a North Queensland Natural Site – Jourama Falls

8. A Case Study of an NGO’s Ecotourism Efforts: Findings Based on a Survey of Visitors to its Tropical Nature Reserve

Part III: Particular Wildlife Species or Groups of Species as Tourist Attractions

9. Tourism as a Force for Conserving Sea Turtles Under Natural Conditions

10. The Role of Open-cycle Hatcheries Relying on Tourism in Sea Turtle Conservation: A Blessing or a Threat?

11. Whale-Watching as a Tourism Resource and as an Impetus for the Conservation of Whales

12. Little Penguins and Other Seabirds as Tourist Drawcards

13. Yellow-eyed Penguins and Royal Albatross as Valuable Tourist Attractions

14. Glow-worms and Other Insects Entice Tourists

15. Tree-Kangaroos, Tourism and Conservation: A Study of a Little-known Species

Part IV: This Study in Retrospect

16. General Conclusions

Where to purchase the book (or ask your library to do so)?

A couple of options are Google (a e-book option is by far the cheapest) and the Book Depository

 


Butterfly approves of Wildlife Tourism Australia’s logo

Butterfly approves of Wildlife Tourism Australia’s logo

Mark Essenhigh of Off Road Adventure Safaris had an unexpected visit from a jezebel butterfly attracted to the WTA logo on his shirt

 

Oras_butterfly1

Oras_butterfly2

Oras_butterfly3

 

Nice to be noticed!


Overview of Wildlife Tourism workshop, Darwin 2013

Overview of Wildlife Tourism workshop, Darwin 2013

Coming soon!

Wildlife Tourism workshop

Wildlife Tourism workshop

networking cruise with Sea Darwin

networking cruise with Sea Darwin

Injalak Hill, field trip to Arnhem Land

Injalak Hill, field trip to Arnhem Land

 

Waterbirds Kakadu

Waterbirds on post-workshop field trip to Kakadu


Events Calendar

We apologise that our events calendar is not live at the moment, however we are working on creating a new calendar that will be available shortly.

If you have any events, workshops, or special occasions you would like us to put on to our calendar, please email our webmaster.

webmaster@wildlifetourismaustralia.org.au

 


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