Archive for the ‘Can wildlife tourism assist biodiversity conservation’ Category


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.

 

 
 

Wildlife Tourism Workshop in Sydney, November 2014

Wildlife tourism and conservation of biodiversity in parks

Download a flyer here: workshopflyer_printversion

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

This workshop is a parallel event of the World Parks Congress, and will be held the day before the  Congress begins

2.00 – 5.00pm, 11 November 2014, meet in the foyer on the ground floor of Office of Environment and Heritage at 59 Goulburn Street (a short walk from Central Station, Sydney).

This event is a half-day workshop organised jointly by Wildlife Tourism Australia Inc. and the Office of Environment and Heritage, New South Wales.

All welcome, no cost. Light refreshments for afternoon tea. Optional networking lunch and/or dinner (at own cost) in nearby restaurant/s – details TBA.

Topics will be briefly presented, and delegates will discuss the following questions in groups of up to 8 participants, then all will come together in a final plenary discussion to share ideas and information.

Topics to be discussed include:

  • 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

These topics will be especially relevant to the WPC theme of “Reaching Conservation Goals,” with some overlap with most other streams. It is anticipated that at least some of the delegates at this event will also be attending WPC, and these discussions will help crystallise some ideas on problems and potential solutions concerning wildlife and tourism in parks, to be further discussed during the Congress.

 

Relevant websites:

 

Contact:

  • Dr Ronda J Green, Chair, Wildlife Tourism Australia Inc. (also proprietor of Araucaria Ecotours and Adjunct Research Fellow at Environmental Futures, Griffith University. Email: chair@wildlifetourismaustralia.org.au Ph 07 55441283 or 0447 077725
  • Dr Isabelle Wolf, Research and Analysis Officer, Customer Experience Division, NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service, Office of Environment and Heritage; Adjunct Associate Lecturer, Centre of Ecosystem Science, University of New South Wales Emailisabelle.wolf@environment.nsw.gov.au Ph 02 9585 6672

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National parks in India aim for tiger conservation

Guest post

Top 5 national parks in India which aim for tiger conservation

Jessica Frei

India possesses half of the world’s tiger population, but the astonishing fact is that these ferocious creatures are in grave danger. There are only fewer numbers of tigers left in India that are on the verge of getting extinct from the earth. However, in order to contain the abating population of the tigers, the various government agencies and national parks in India are introducing various conservation programs such as the Project Tiger, nature camps and education at the school level to protect the tigers. Some of the National Parks that have undertaken tiger conservation programs are as follows:

Jim Corbett National Park

The Jim Corbett National park is renowned as one of the first national parks in India from where the ‘Project Tiger’ was initiated. It is also the oldest national park of India. During the 19th century, there were approximately 50000 tigers all across India. In the year 1972, their population decreased alarmingly to 1800 all over India. Deeply concerned by the dwindling number of tigers, the former Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi took some concrete steps to protect these species from the brink of extinction. As a result, Project Tiger was launched on 1st April, 1973 in the Corbett tiger reserve. Since then, there has been no looking back as this particular project is still proving to be successful for the tiger conservation.

Tiger, Photo:  K shreesh

Tiger, Photo: K shreesh

Bandipur National Park

Bandipur National Park is situated in Mysore (Karnataka) that was set up as a tiger reserve in the year 1973, under Project Tiger. The population of tigers in this park has increased considerably, mainly due to the conservation efforts of the National Tiger Conservation Agency, a well-known government agency and scientific monitoring of the tigers. The monitoring of the tigers is done by the amazing technique known as the camera trap. The camera trapping project undertaken by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the involvement of several local people and NGOs has greatly helped in boosting the population of tigers significantly.

Bandhavgarh National Park

The popular Bandhavgarh National Park is located in Umaria (Madhya Pradesh). It was declared a national park in the year 1958. Considering the large percentage of flora and fauna found in the park, it was included in the Project Tiger Network in 1993. The Madhya Pradesh government has launched many conservation efforts in this park with the help of the World Bank (WB). The funds provided by the WB are utilized to develop the necessary infrastructure and training staff for the tiger protection. M.P. Tiger Foundation Society has also been formed that collects funds from the people and NGO’s to safeguard the tigers.

Ranthambore National Park

Ranthambore National Park is situated in Sawai Madhopur District (Rajasthan) was declared as the tiger reserve in 1980. The main objective of the park is to protect the tigers and various other flora and fauna of the forest. When the reserve was established, there were many villages in the park that used the forest year for grazing. After the creation of the reserve, the villagers were relocated to another place to shield the wildlife. Many ecodevelopment committees have been formed to protect the forests and the special patrolling is undertaken in the regular area to prevent tigers from poaching.

Panna National Park

Panna National Park is nestled in Panna district of Madhya Pradesh. The park is renowned all over the world as one of the best maintained parks in India. It also got the Award of Excellence in 2007. The park was created in the year 1981 and declared as a tiger reserve in 1994. The reserve boasts of an excellent wireless network that proves to be useful to take quick action in the event of poaching. Fire line maintenance work is carried out every year to prevent any event of fire in the park.

Therefore, the prominent conservation activities undertaken by the national parks in India will really save the tigers and delete their name from the endangered species list.

Author bio-

Jessica frei is a wildlife enthusiast and a blogger too, she likes to travel different national parks and wildlife sanctuaries all over the globe. She is currently in India on her wildlife tour. In this article she is sharing about different national parks which aim to conserve tiger.


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):

http://www.nailsma.org.au/news/20090706.html

http://www.zoominfo.com/#!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 http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/tiger-tourism.html#cr:

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  http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/tiger-tourism.html#cr for further details

 

Also see http://www.indianexpress.com/news/ban-on-tourists-free-run-for-poachers/994468/, 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.

 


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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