Try not to disturb the wildlife by your approach. It may seem trivial if an animal flees from its feeding, breeding or resting site, however if disturbances become common, the animal may avoid their preferred feeding grounds and be forced to less productive sites. This is likely to lead to deterioration of their health, and that of their young. Frighten an infant away from its mother, or frighten the mother enough to flee without her infant, and they may not re-establish contact.
Interrupt an animal already needing rest and the animal has to expend more energy coping with the disruption. Think of a kangaroo resting in the shade on a hot day, a lizard basking in the sun on a cold morning or a penguin protecting her egg from icy winds. In these situations animals are needing to conserve their energy, rather than use it.
Take advice from your trained guides. Do not insist that a guide approach animals any closer than they are prepared to do. Trained guides that follow their routes regularly will know how close they can safely approach without disturbing the wildlife. Do not approach bird nests unless with a trained guide who assures you it is safe. Avoid flushing birds for identification unless involved with a monitoring team and doing so under controlled conditions. Do not take flashlight photos directly into the faces of nocturnal animals, especially those which fly or glide.
Be very careful at dawn and dusk. If self-driving, be very careful at dawn and dusk when many animals are especially active and visibility is poor. If you do collide with an animal and it is still alive (or a baby in its pouch is still alive) phone a wildlife carer group or the RSPCA on 1300ANIMAL. When leaving a National Park or other area where wildife may be close to your vehicle, especially on a hot day or where animals have been fed by other tourists, check underneath and behind your vehicle before driving.
Do not feed wildlife. The exception is where a guide or landowner provides you with good reason why it is not harmful, in this particular case. Indiscriminate feeding can:
- Increase aggressive or predatory species at the expense of others.
- Satisfy animals’ appetites with inappropriate foods so they fail to acquire sufficient nourishment.
- Cause animals to become aggressive, even dangerous, when the next traveler does not feed them.
- Alter the natural behaviour of animals, so that they no longer represent a truly wild and natural example of wildlife.
- Lead to disease, either because of bacteria in the food itself or by encouraging animals to congregate more densely than is natural.
- Lead to increased aggression between animals because of dense aggregation.
Take your rubbish out with you. When visiting a National Park dispose rubbish in an appropriate place. Apart from looking unsightly and spoiling the experience for other travelers, it can cause disease, dependency (if edible) and injury to wildlife. Do not collect any kind of animal or plant material unless you have a appropriate permit. Do not take pets with you – it is forbidden, as they may kill or disturb wildlife or bring disease. It is not comfortable or safe for pets to be left in your car as you walk. Arrange to leave them somewhere safe while you enjoy the Park without them. There are other areas such as some state forests and council reserves where dogs may be exercised on a leash.
Join a conservation volunteer scheme. Joining schemes such as Conservation Volunteers Australia or Earthwatch allows you to contribute to conservation while traveling. Donate towards conservation projects in the country in which you are traveling. Select tour operators and eco-lodges that demonstrate a concern for wildlife conservation. Eco-accreditation is one good sign, but also judge by what you observe and by the answers to your questions before signing up.
Report any breaches of wildlife conservation or animal welfare. If you see any breaches of wildlife conservation or welfare, tell the local national parks officials, police or animal welfare organization as appropriate. Also email us with details.