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


Young people and volunteer research

Young people and volunteer research

WTA Chair Dr Ronda Green presented this 4-minute talk in the “Inspiring the Next Generation” theme at the recent World Parks Congress n Sydney:

birdwatchgirlIt’s great when young people get ‘switched-on’ to nature, but they can then become frustrated and discouraged by not knowing others who share their enthusiasm, a lack of opportunity to actually do something for conservation of the animals and forests or reefs they have come to love, and a lack of confidence in their ability to do something useful if such opportunity does arise.

The Australian Wildlife Research Network was founded by Wildlife Tourism Australia, originally for communication between tour operators conducting or assisting with research but not knowing of each others’ existence, but has been expanded to include networking between tour operations and academics for mutual benefit, and between tour operators and volunteer tourists, including young adults, teenagers and families with children.

The network website also includes information on identification guides, field equipment, monitoring methods, literature on working with volunteers and other guidelines for academics, tour operators and the volunteers themselves.

Young folk can be inspired and encouraged by opportunities to experience wild places and wildlife, socialising with other enthusiasts and interacting with researchers, and knowing they are contributing to useful research or monitoring for conservation management or to the general understanding of our wildlife ecology and behaviour.

The network, which includes tours, ecolodges and wildlife parks involved in research, is the only one we know of that focuses on wildlife research and monitoring connected with tourism throughout Australia and including projects for all budget levels and ages to join in with.

A successful project involving volunteers has to be well-planned, including clear explanation to participants on what to expect, friendly greeting, effective training on what needs to be done, appropriate assignment of tasks, from carrying or cleaning equipment through helping to find animals to actually taking measurements or recording observations, opportunity for participants to socialise, and where possible to safely experience being alone in nature, and to learn about the animals and ecosystems they are experiencing, and also whether the data is to be collected in a way consistent with valid analysis or comparison (for instance between seasons, or the progression of a restoration plot) and for valid conclusions to be made, and how the information collected will ultimately be used. Feedback from participants and stakeholders is also important

It’s not enough to ignite a fire, we have to keep the flame alive amongst our youth, and the Australian Wildlife Research Network is one vehicle to assist with this.

To find out more, please visit wildliferesearchnetwork.org.au


Echidna Walkabout wins international award

Echidna Walkabout short-listed for international award -
***They Won! Get The Update Here

koalaEchidnaWalkaboutWTA member Echidna Walkabout has been short-listed for an international award in responsible tourism, and even have their koala photo (see pic on right) heading the page of the website:  http://www.wtmlondon.com/press/Announcing-the-Shortlist-of-the-World-Responsible-Tourism-Awards-2014

The category they are short-listed for involves commitment to the conservation of habitats and animals in the wild and using tourism to achieve conservation objectives.

From the website:

The winners will be announced in a special ceremony as part of the World Responsible Tourism Day celebrations at the World Travel Market, the leading global event for the travel industry, in London on Wednesday 05 November before a packed audience of the media, industry and responsible tourism professionals. – See more at: http://www.wtmlondon.com/press/Announcing-the-Shortlist-of-the-World-Responsible-Tourism-Awards-2014#sthash.7Lt4w0Xr.dpuf

WTA offers hearty congratulations to Janine Duffy and Roger Smith for the short-listing

At time of writing Janine is on her way to London for the awards dinner on 5th November 2014

Read more on Echidna Walkabout’s own webste: http://echidnawalkabout.com.au/world-responsible-tourism-awards-2014

 

UPDATE:

AND THE WINNER IS:  Gold award: Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours

Congratulations Echnida Walkabout Nature Tours!

Read more here:  Best for wildlife conservation

Echidna Walkabout Nature Tours


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

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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 very 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 of 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 values of the park
  • not increasing waste and other undesirable bi-product
  • not decreasing the biodiversity 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 is 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 directly.
  • 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.

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 of 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:

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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.

 


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