Archive for the ‘Wildlife Conservation and tourism’ Category

Marine turtle rehabilitation centre, Australia

Turtle information centre, and a great combination of wildlife conservation, research, education and tourism

Jennie Gilbert and her husband run a large veterinary clinic in Cairns, and Jennie is also a researcher of marine turtles at James Cook University. In 2000, she and fellow marine biologist Paul Barnes started one of Australia’s largest  voluntary  turtle rehabilitation centres with  an attached  interpretation centre presently being built.

Scuba divers coming ashore on Fitzroy Island

I recently visited the turtle rehabilitation centre , on Fitzroy Island, near Cairns, Far North Queensland.

Fitzroy is a beautiful little continental island with fringing reef. Just over an hour’s ferry ride from Cairns, it includes rainforest walks, lovely beaches, mountainous terrain (it is essentially a mountain top with most of the rest of the mountain now covered by sea) and coral you can snorkel amongst just by walking out fro the beach. Not quite as diverse as the outer reef, there are still plenty of species of fish foraging amongst the corals, and I was especially thrilled when a unicorn fish passed close to me.

The turtle hospital is near the best snorkelling area, and when I visited had just two turtles in the tanks (I was told there were a few more at the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre on the mainland). One – an olive Ridley turtle –  was very badly injured when first brought in  and recovery is taking while.

Green turtle (usually herbivorous) eating a squid at the Turtle Hospital, Fitzroy Island

The other, a green turtle, is doing very well and will probably be released fairly soon. Since green turtles are herbivorous, I was surprised to see her eating squid, but they apparently adapt very readily to that in captivity.

You can easily visit Fitzroy Island as a day-trip from Cairns, but even better you can stay overnight, either at the campground or the very attractive and comfortable Fitzroy Resort

The turtle information centre is due to open a little later this year: keep tuned for a report here from Jennie.

Further reading (on Jennie Gilbert, turtle research and turtle rehabilitation):!search/profile/person?personId=1264094801&targetid=profile

Jennie Gilbert with a green turtle on Fitzroy Island. The missing piece of shell on her right hand side will never re-grow, but she has now recovered well from other injuries and is soon to be released )

Tiger tourism banned? Effect on conservation?


Tiger tourism banned? Effect on conservation?

India appears to be one of the world’s most active countries in wildlife tourism. Recently however their government has decided to ban one of the most popular activities – tiger tourism –  in core tiger areas.

If this action protects tigers in sensitive areas but still allows tiger-based tourism in other regions, it would seem a good thing. But many think it will backfire and tigers will decline faster as a result.

From Wildlife Extra’swebsite

Not only common sense but hard facts all support the argument that tourism places a spotlight on tigers and provides constant scrutiny of their health and welfare. Remove this spotlight and the door is left wide open to poachers, illegal loggers and other people who do not have the tiger’s best interest at heart. Tourism in the parks needs better regulation as nobody benefits – neither wildlife nor tourist – from irresponsible driving and over exuberant guides. Banning it altogether though is the final nail in the coffin of the tiger.

Visit for further details


Also see, part of which reads:

Ecotourism is the only sustainable, non-consumptive industry available to communities inhabiting the surroundings of our protected areas. Ecotourism can lower the cost of conservation that is borne primarily by these communities.

I saw a tribal youth, whose livelihood depended on tourism in Kanha, telling a news channel that if his livelihood is taken away, he would have no option but to cut the forest trees and kill tigers or become a Naxalite.

Take the case of African wildlife tourism, which is a significant part of the GDP of many African countries. Empirical evidence is available to prove that the critically endangered gorillas of Rwanda were saved only because of the positive impact of tourism on local economies.


Economics of wildlife tourism and conservation

Economics of wildlife tourism and conservation

Emeritus Professor Clem Tisdell of University of Queensland, is one of Australia’s most published authors on economics and a leading expert on the economics of wildlife tourism.  He will be one of the keynote speakers at our national workshop in May and will be staying on for discussion groups – and excellent opprtunity to thrash out some ideas and gain some valuable insights on the economic value of wildlife and how economics and ecological studies might combine for wildlife conservation.

See our interview with Professor Tisdell, and feel free to join in some discussions even now by adding comments below




Is hugging helping or hindering?

Is hugging helping or hindering?

A recent article casts doubt as to whether operations such as walking with lions are really contributing to conservation

There is certainly potential for the tourism dollar to be used for assisting conservation, especially when it brings in animals-lovers and adrenalin-junkies who may not be so inclined to contribute their dollars to less charismatic creatures.  But how much of it is genuine?  The article speaks of human-handled lions becoming problems to humans after release or being rracked by wild lions, and Peter Allison (“Whatever You Do, Don’t Run“) on his Facebook page tells of disturbing examples where animals are released not into the wild but in game parks to be shot by other tourists.

The article perhaps goes a little too far in implying that none of  the animal-encounter experiences assist conservation, but it should make us a little wary. How though does the visitor judge the genuine-ness of conservation claims?

Call for information for bird conservation in Melbourne

Call for information for bird conservation in Melbourne

WTA recently received the following:
“I am representing a lobby group contesting the reversal of a Green Wedge status of piece of land in w. Melbourne. This land is unique for birdlife and we are developing a propoasal for a Nature Park similar to the Pensthorpe in Norfolk. UK. We would like access to advise and research for our submissions.”
Rita Parkinson
I have directed Rita to various published references, but there may be others out there with unpublished data which would be useful.
If so please email Rita with your info and/or submit a comment below
Click here to read about what has been achieved  in Pensthorpe, and here to see a nice example of a suburban Qld birdlife reserve at Eagleby Wetlands, with a media article and   extra photos of it here, and perhaps an indication that it may have increased real estate values in the area (it is certainly being described here as an incentive)

Gala dinner for Wildlife Hospital

Gala dinner to aid Currumbin Wildlife Hospital

WTA member Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary (Gold Coast, Queensland) is holding a gala dinner on 22nd October in support of their excellent new wildlife hospital.

The wildlife hospital services not only their own animals but orphaned, sick and injured wildlife throughout the southeast corner of Queensland, often brought in by concerned members of the public, and can include anything from echidnas and kangaroos to snakes and frogs.


Can tourism save wildlife?


Saving wildlife through tourism

An interesting article has appeared recently: Can tourism save tigers?

An excerpt:

“…  demonstrated that densest population of tigers with the best breeding success occur within the tourism zones of the park. What is also noticed that it is during the period that tourism is slow in the Tiger Reserves like during the rains that poachers practice their trade without being detected by tour operators, hoteliers, tourists who otherwise act as threats to poachers.”

They also point out that “[c]ountries like South Africa generate the maintenance cost of national parks completely from the tourism Industry. The Indian Wildlife tourism should be inspired by this where the major part of the expenses of maintaining the park could be covered by tourism. In India the fees collected at the Indian Sanctuaries are a miniscule percentage of the cost of maintenance.”

If you are traveling to India, supporting these reserves could help the tiger’s future, and that of other animals sharing its habitat.

Here in Australia, Dreamworld on the Gold Coast is assisting tigers from afar,   raising significant amounts of money for anti-poaching and other conservation activities in Indonesia and Russia.

Tiger enjoying a swim at Dreamworld. Photo Araucaria Ecotours

Australia’s endangered creatures are generally not as big and spectacular as the tiger, and would often entail a few hours of travel away from major centres of population to see in the wild, and (for mammals) mostly at night.

What has been done (and continues to be done) for the bilby through schools and tourism is great. Other projects have varied from highly successful to failing after a few years.Operations such as Dolphin Discovery, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and various operations run by National Parks such as Cleland Wildlife Park and the David Fleay Wildlife Park are all encouraging

But with time running out for many of our species, further creative, innovative and workable ideas to expand on the services tourism can provide to our native creatures and help them survive into the future would be very welcome.

We’d also like to know other examples elsewhere in the world, including  where the smaller, less conspicuous, less famous animals have been assisted through tourism




Wildlife tourism and poaching in the Sudan

Sudan – can they establish successful wildlife tourism?

elephants in Kruger NP

Elephants in South Africa (photo by Araucaria Ecotours)

An article on potential of South Sudan for wildlife tourism speaks of the great potential for this exciting part of Africa and the current problem of poaching.

From the article:

‘ “You know, that pure sense of Africa,” Wright says. “The vast spaces and wilderness. You know, the Africa before Karen Blixen [author of Out of Africa] came. Sudan still has that.” South Sudan could certainly use the tourists: The economy is based entirely on oil, which doesn’t create lots of jobs.” ‘

If they can get the wildlife tourism venture off the ground it could help employ local people who would then have an interest in keeping the animals alive rather than eating them or being employed by the black market, and perhaps frequent visits from tourists could make things a little more difficult for poachers to enter undetected.

Sudan of course is not currently a prime tourist destination, but the article assures us that the great wildlife areas are far removed from the major regions of political unrest.


Green Day Out

Meet Wildlife Tourism Australia folk at the Green Day Out

Wildlife Tourism Australia will be holding a stall at the Green Day Out in Broadbeach (Gold Coast, Queensland) on Sunday 12th June this year, promoting sustainable wildlife tourism that assists rather than hinders conservation.

If you are a member of Wildlife Tourism Australia, please let us know if you would like anything displayed on the way your own business assists wildlife conservation (whether through quality information for your guests and local community, support for local conservation efforts, habitat restoration, conservation breeding of rare species etc.)

You would need to send material to us by no later than 6th June.

Being the Year of the Forest, we especially welcome any forest-related examples, but information on conservation in all habitats is welcome.

Wildlife tourism interpretation and conservation attitudes

Wildlife tourism interpretation and conservation attitudes

A recent paper has just been added to the Wildlife Tourism Australia  research bibliography:

Hughes, K. (2011). Designing Post-Visit Action Resources for Families Visiting Wildlife Tourism Sites. Visitor Studies, 14(1), 66-83.

The article explores what prompts visitors to a Queensland turtle rookery adopt conservation actions after their visit

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