Program for Wildlife Tourism Conference, Adelaide 2016

Program for ‘Where the Wild Things Grow’

The conference, though lower in attendance than last year, was a great success, with many excellent presentations, active discussions and a variety of field trips (many thanks to our major sponsor, DEWNR, for arranging and sponsoring these).  

There will soon be photos and a report on the conference: stay tuned!

photo: DEWNR

photo: DEWNR

Thursday to Saturday 3-5 November:

Pre-conference tours (or do your own thing exploring South Australia) 

25% off all tours and accommodation with Exceptional Kangaroo Island.   This is a wonderful island, with kangaroos, koalas, fur seals, sea lions, penguins, glossy black cockatoos, many other birds, many habitat types (coastal heaths to forests) and a wild coastline, one spot with fantastically carved (by natural erosion) huge granite boulders

Sunday 6 November

Main venue: 

University of South Australia, City West campus, Hawke Building (47-55 North Terrace, Adelaide), 

Bradley Forum Meeting Room (Level 5) – Sunday, 6 November and Tuesday, 8 November 

Level 6 Room 12 – Monday, 7 November and Wednesday, 9 November 

Look for WTA signs when you arrive.

  • 1.00pm Registration opens, University of South Australia (full directions to room TBA) Bradley Forum Meeting Room (Level 5)
  • 1.30pm Welcome, networking (including ‘speed dating’ and other activities), displays (all delegates are invited to bring items they wish to exhibit, including a poster up to A0 portrait size plus up to 50 fliers, but please let us know ASAP if you wish to do this, as space may be limited. Sponsors are very welcome to do the same. Others (tour operators, tourism groups, natural history groups, sellers of binoculars or books etc.) who may wish to do so (at a cost of $20.00 per exhibit if not a delegate or sponsor), please contact us
  • 5.30pm Travel by coach to Welcome Function and barbecue at Cleland Wildlife Park in the Adelaide Hills. Free for delegates. 

Monday 7 November

  • 7.30am Registration opens Level 6 Room 12
  • Chair for morning session: Aise Kim, Uni SA
  • 8.40am Acknowledgement of traditional owners, Welcome and introduction to conference (Ronda Green and Aise Kim)
  • 9.00am Opening Address by Hon. Ian Hunter, MLC, State Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation.
  • 9.20am Chris Thomas, DEWNR “Activating wildlife and nature-based tourism in South Australia”.
  • 9.45am Keynote Speaker Albert Teo:  “ Running an ecolodge at the Kinabatangan River: Challenges and Opportunïties”
  • 10.30am morning tea
  • Presentations: Partnerships Chair: Ronda Green
  • 11.00am Andrew Tribe “Conservation, tourism and research – Bringing it all together”
  • 11.20am Maree Kerr. “Bat tourism in Cairns: Working with Local Government to achieve positive educational outcomes about flying-foxes”
  • 11.40am  Rex Brown and Sybille Noras “Rebuilding a community and tourism business post bushfire through wildlife and flora projects”
  • 12.00 Lunch
  • Presentations: Partnerships continued Chair: Chris Thomas
  • 1.00 Tricia Curtis “A new approach to the Management of Public Land”
  • 1.20pm  Ashley Kelly and Stephen Williams “The development of a wildlife tourism experience to advance conservation efforts in the Way Kambas National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia”
  • 1.40pm 
  • Discussions
  • 1.30pm Discussion on partnership practice and innovations, and SWOT analysis  on forming partnerships. Aise Kim
  • 2.15pm Development of partnerships through the wildlife research network. Ronda Green
  •        2.45pm afternoon tea, and walk (20 minutes) along river to Adelaide Zoo
  • 3.30pm Welcome to zoo, presentation by Nicholas Bishop (Manager of Nature Theatre, Zoos SA) and (TBA), after hours viewing of animals, 

Free time, many restaurants available on Rundle Street (details TBA)

  • 7.30pm talk on bats (Maree Kerr) and watching flight of fruitbats from Botanic Gardens (near zoo)


Tuesday 8 November

8.30am Introduction to second day of presentations.  Bradley Forum Meeting Room (Level 5)

  • Keynote speakers     Chair: Maree Kerr
  • 8.45am Keynote speaker Arkellah Irving,  Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary.  “A river story, a bird story and collective impact for change”
  • Presentations: Ethics
  • 9.15am Ru Somaweera “The scaly & the slimy….. A review of the use of herpetofauna in wildlife tourism”
  • 9.35pm Simin Maleknia “Exploring forensic tools to identify origins of wildlife” (combatting illegal wildlife trafficking)

9.55am morning tea

  • 10.25am Keynote speaker Shaun de Bruyn “Growing jobs and economic activity in protected areas: issues and opportunities for tourism businesses”
  • 10.55am Discussion led by Shaun de Bruyn Title “Unrivalled native wildlife experiences in Adelaide”

12.25 lunch

Presentations: Ethics  Chair: Aise Kim

  • 1.25pm Keynote speaker Georgette Leah Burns, Griffith University “The Search for a Wildlife Tourism Ethic”
  • 2.10pm  Rie Usui “Emerging wildlife tourism on Okunoshima Island (“Rabbit Island”) in Hiroshima, Japan: challenges and ethical implications”
  • 2.30pm Ronda Green “Ethical conflicts in wildlife tourism, and some problems with purist perspectives
  • 2.50pm Georgette Leah Burns Seeing Seal SignsUsing interpretation to modify visitor behaviour at a seal watching site in Iceland

3.00pm Afternoon tea

  • Presentations Partnerships Chair: Ronda Green
  • 3.30pm Maree Kerr “The Great Australian Bat Trail- a Bat Tourism partnership proposal”
  • 3.50pm Cat Davidson “Partnerships and challenges involved in the rapid and varied economic transitions of the Falklands Islands.”
  • 4.10pm Kamini Barua
  • Discussion
  • 4.20pm: Ethics and research. How do we find out what really stresses native animals, and what do we need to know to make the right decisions? 
  • 5.00pm WTA’s AGM  (optional attendance), then walk to venue for next event, on Flinders Street
  • 5.30pm SATIC’s AGM (optional attendance) followed by presentations by Shaun de Bruyn and Albert Teo, and a special discussion and networking evening “Talking Tourism” with SATIC

Wednesday 9 November

Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary cruise and morning tea 

  • Delegates to meet on the corner of North Terrace and Fenn Place ready to leave at 8.15am
  • The bus will depart at 8.15am and drive to Queen’s Wharf, Port Adelaide
  • The Dolphin Explorer Cruises will leave at 9.00am 
  • Morning tea will be provided on the cruise including tea, coffee, scones with jam and cream and fruit
  • A representative from the Adelaide Dolphin Sanctuary will join the cruise to provide information and  answer questions
  • The Dolphin Explorer Cruises will return to the dock at 11.00am
  • The bus will collect delegates at 11.00am for the return trip Adelaide.


12.00 Lunch (in Adelaide)

  • Presentations: Leadership  Chair: Chris Thomas Level 6 Room 12
  • 1.00pm Mikala Peters  “Putting Phillip Island on the Whale Watching map of Australia”
  • 1.20pm Aise Kim  “Leading pro-environmental behavior for sustainable wildlife tourism”
  • 1.40pm Angus Mitchell “Opportunities in protecting wildlife tourism and marine parks”
  • 2.00pm Junko Oshima “Issues of commercial birdwatching tours in Japan”

2.30 afternoon tea

  • 3.00pm Discussions on leadership, partnerships, responsibilities and ethics, leading to proposals for incorporating into business plans for delegates’ businesses, projects or organisations, and sharing these with other delegates
  • 4.15pm Final session,plenary discussion, closing remarks, etc.
  • 5.00pm Close of conference

Thursday 10 November

  • 8.00am Half-day conference tour to Monarto free-range zoo. Return to Adelaide by 1,30pm (details TBA, but no extra charge to delegates)
  • 30% off wildlife tour into the Adelaide Hills, walking at Morialta Gorge etc. (Thursday only:book directly with operate and mention your attendance at the conference) See details
  • 25% off all tours and accommodation with Exceptional Kangaroo Island. See details (any time Thursday or next few days) See details


Return to main conference page



Where the Wild Things Grow: Leadership, Partnerships and Ethics in Wildlife Tourism

Wildlife Tourism Australia

University of South Australia, Adelaide,

6-9 November, 2016

Table of Contents

(in order of surnames of authors)



Page number

Tricia Curtis Brookfield – a new approach to the management of public land


Cat Davidson

The Sub-Antarctic Falkland Islands: Partnerships and challenges involved in the rapid and varied economic transitions of the Islands.


Ronda Green Ethical conflicts in wildlife tourism, and some problems with purist perspectives


Arkellah Irving

A river story, a bird story and collective impact for change


Aise Kim Leading pro-environmental behavior for sustainable wildlife tourism


Simin Maleknia

Expanding forensic tools to identify origins of species


Angus Mitchell

Opportunities in protecting wildlife tourism and marine parks


Mikala Peters

Putting Phillip Island on the Whale Watching map of Australia


Ru Somaweera

The scaly & the slimy: a review of the use of herpetofauna in wildlife tourism


Maree Treadwell- Kerr and Martin Cohen

Bat tourism in Cairns: Working with Local Government to achieve positive educational outcomes about flying-foxes


Maree Treadwell-Kerr

The Great Australian Bat Trail: A Bat Tourism partnership proposal.


Andrew Tribe,  

Ben O’hara

and Peter Murray

The Hidden Vale Project – Conservation, Research and Tourism


Rie Usui and

8Carolin Funck

Emerging wildlife tourism on Okunoshima Island (“Rabbit Island”) in Hiroshima, Japan: challenges and ethical implications  


Stephen Williams and

Ashley Kelly

The development of a wildlife tourism experience to advance conservation efforts in the Way Kambas National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia


Brookfield – a new approach to the management of public land

Tricia Curtis

Regional Manager South Australia

Conservation Volunteers Australia

Brookfield Conservation Park has a varied and interesting past – once a sheep station, a Wombat Reserve owned by the Chicago Zoological Society, a State managed Conservation Park and now managed by Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA).

Brookfield is now an accessible place for people to engage in the world of wildlife, science and park management. It is a location that supports interested individuals and groups, the curious and the passionate. The wildlife is what draws people in but they always leave with so much more.

It is for children who want to see (and touch!) ‘square poo’, for researchers who can be confidant their studies can continue for years to come and for local and international visitors who ‘just want to help’. It is where people can become scientists for a day and make a real contribution and where scientists can tell their stories and get their important message out to the community.

It is an example of how a State Government and Non-Government Organisation can partner successfully for the benefit of our environment and create a location that strives for best practice far beyond its fence line. People and conservation are what CVA is all about and Brookfield Conservation Park perfectly encapsulates that. Our story provides an insight into the history of how we got here, where we are heading and how this can be repeated across the landscape.

The Sub-Antarctic Falkland Islands: Partnerships and challenges involved in the rapid and varied economic transitions of the Islands.

Cat Davidson

The beautiful and remote Falkland Islands are continuing to transition and adjust between a whaling/sealing and sheep farming economy, to one far more strongly focused on wildlife tourism. The Islands face many additional challenges of politics, weather and the very recent conflict.

Farming families living on and working these islands for generations have begun to embrace the international desire to visit these spectacular landscapes and wonderful wildlife ecosystems, and in doing so have had to rapidly adapt to conservation ideals and the demands of the modern wildlife traveler.

However, not every visitor to the Falklands is there for the wildlife, and the conflict in 1982 with Argentina is still a very real daily presence in people’s lives and upon the landscape.
This combination of polar exploration, farming, war history, wildlife tourism and most recently, fishing and deep sea oil extraction makes for an incredibly unique melting pot of partnerships that may not occur anywhere else in the world.

Ethical conflicts in wildlife tourism, and some problems with purist perspectives

Ronda Green, PhD

Chair WTA, proprietor Araucaria Ecotours, Adjunct research fellow Griffith University

Wildlife tourism operators (including guides, ecolodge and wildlife park staff and others) face many ethical dilemmas.  They are also increasingly under scrutiny by the general public, via social media and other platforms, and there are conflicts between operators, some of which are more serious than others. We need to consider many aspects, including conservation, animal welfare, human-wildlife interactions, needs of different stake-holders and conflicts between all of these. We also need to prioritise issues, to enhance our understanding of what animals really need, understand real and perceived problems of human stake-holders, find holistic solutions where possible, realise what is and isn’t possible,  and educate governments, tourism personnel and the general public to dispel myths and appreciate the needs of animals and human stakeholders.

A river story, a bird story and collective impact for change

Arkellah Irving

Community Involvement and Planning Coordinator, Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary

Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, South Australian Government

The Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary is a unique safe haven for shorebirds, many of which are truly remarkable – migrating each year between Australia and the northern hemisphere. Over many years, volunteers, local communities and non-government organisations have strived to protect this internationally significant area, the shorebirds and their fragile habitat.

In 2014, the South Australian Government got behind the community’s conservation efforts by committing nearly $4 million to creating the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary.The Sanctuary encompasses over 60km of coastline north of Adelaide.

To be effective, conservation requires a coordinated effort across public and privately owned land. That’s why the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary is not defined by fences and boundaries. Rather it is a landscape where local communities, volunteers, government, non-government organisations, and land managers can work together towards shorebird conservation and enhancing community. A diverse range of land uses including salt production, horticulture, recreation and manufacturing have coexisted alongside conservation in the landscape for many years. Enhancing conservation in parallel with sustaining other land uses is a cornerstone of the Sanctuary concept.

The Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary is not a park, however the most critical areas of habitat are being provided with long-term protection through the creation of a national park within the Sanctuary. While conservation will be a priority, the national park will also become a focal point for people, who will be able to enjoy the area in much the same way as they always have. They will also be able to enjoy improved facilities, learn about Kaurna culture, and gain an appreciation of the role that the area plays in global shorebird conservation.

To establish the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary, community and Government have created a mission statement: The Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary is an important area that safeguards native species, helps to develop a thriving economy, enhances the wellbeing of all visitors and expands global conservation efforts.

People are driving the establishment of the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary through a new way of working together and achieving shared outcomes – an approach called Collective Impact. Collective Impact in the Bird Sanctuary is the bringing together of local townships, international experts, Kaurna elders, farmers, local government, tour operators and so many more – all towards a common agenda for the birds and the people. This approach recognises that many people have a role to play in making an impact for things that matter, in this case protecting shorebirds and creating opportunities for people. Through the collective impact of partners and local communities, the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary will assist in the protection of shorebirds and demonstrate the philosophy that people connecting with nature, strengthen communities and enhance nature.

Leading pro-environmental behavior for sustainable wildlife tourism

Aise Kim, PhD

Senior Lecturer in Tourism Management

University of South Australia, Adelaide

With the growing emphasis on sustainable tourism, promoting pro-environmental behavior is a key concern. Yet past research reveals that changing tourist behaviour is a far more challenging task as it tends to be influenced by various factors (e.g. habits, regulations, interpretive tour guides, knowledge, emotions, etc.), going far beyond tourists’ concern about the environmental problems. In particular, wildlife-human interaction activities have mixed impacts on promoting animal welfare, depending on the type of behaviour, specific settings, and target markets.

This research reviews various types of contradictory perceptions towards responsible versus irresponsible behaviour in the context of wildlife tourism settings. It also argues that different approaches to communication strategies are required with a stronger emphasis on personal responsibility from both tourists and tour operators’ perspectives. This might provide a fruitful way to think about how to stimulate long-term change in people’s values, attitudes and behaviour for a more effective sustainable tourism practices.

Further implications for the use of powerful persuasive communication tools are suggested in order to achieve dual goals of sustainable wildlife tourism – behavioral change in environmental practices, and for tourist experience enhancement.

Expanding forensic tools to identify origins of species

Simin Maleknia

Centre for Ecosystem Science, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences,

University of New South Wales, Sydney

Wildlife tourism contributes in many ways to the conservation of native and other endangered species, such as by increasing public appreciation of the environment, and spreading awareness of the growing global threat of illegal wildlife industry. This presentation aims to provide an overview of non- invasive analytical approaches, applied toidentify geographic origins of species, as a key step toward preventing the illegal wildlife trade. This work is based on profiling stable isotopes in keratinous tissues, which remain metabolically inert following synthesis, and thus maintain an isotopic record and reflect the location where the tissues were generated. The utility of X-ray fluorescence microscopy, radiographic X-ray imaging, optical imaging, and mass spectrometry, to map the elemental composition (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, including trace metals and minerals) of keratinous tissues (e.g. hair, feather, or nail) of several Australian animals (wild and domesticated birds and mammals) will be presented.

Opportunities in protecting wildlife tourism and marine parks

Angus Mitchell

Marine Park Strategy and Funding Coordinator

Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources

Marine wildlife experiences with-out equal’ is one of four themes in South Australia’s new Nature Based Tourism Strategy. Tourism experiences in South Australia’s marine parks include opportunities to dive ancient reefs, see dolphins in the wild, swim with Sea-lions and even shark cage diving.

Within one hour of Adelaide a number of accessible sanctuary zones, a dolphin sanctuary and an international bird sanctuary help protect rocky reefs, southern right whales, leafy sea dragons, harlequin fish, a fish nursery, shipwrecks and much more.

But what difference do marine parks make? Angus will share his perspective about the short term opportunities and long term vision for tourism in South Australia’s marine park network.

Issues of commercial birdwatching tours in Japan:

Photographing wildlife versus Watching wildlife

(Department of Tourism Sciences, University of the Ryukyus Okinawa, JAPAN)

Birdwatching tour is becoming very popular in wildlife tourism in Japan, particularly for elderly people because birdwatching is not active physically and birds are relatively easy to observe anywhere in the world. As wildlife tourists they are more likely to stay longer, to spend more, and to have higher education levels and incomes in the aspect of wildlife tourism markets. Many birdwatchers focus on identifying the number of species possible from a given location. The increase in a list of species is an important element in the outcomes for birdwatching activities. Their interests however have been getting changed from watching wildlife to photographing wildlife in birdwatching tour recently. Despite the general good level of awareness and care taken, some birdwatchers are careless in their desire to photograph a species that they have not seen before and not previously seen by tourists including rare species (threatened) and endemic species in the specific destination. It is also reported that their watching behaviors create negative effects on wildlife and the host community.

One of the reasons for changing is the development of camera technology and SNS. Most birdwatchers use digital cameras nowadays and take photos a lot without care of numbers they take. Then they put their photos on Internet worldwide by any SNS with all information, such as location, date and access for the destination. The another reason may be the increase of wildlife photo contests. The Wild Bird Society of Japan (wbs-J) and CANON cooperate to publish a manner book when taking photographs, however it doesn’t work in reality. This presentation discusses some of the current issues and challenges to be faced in birdwatching tour towards shaping sustainable wildlife tourism.

Putting Phillip Island on the Whale Watching map of Australia

Mikala Peters

Wildlife Coast Cruises

Whale watching opportunities in Victoria have traditionally been focused on the annual visitation of the Southern Right Whales off Warrnambool. Humpback Whales also migrate along the Victorian coast annually and offer spectacular whale-watching experience from land as well as tourist vessels in Port Phillip and Western Port Bay.

Since 2012 Wildlife Coast Cruises (WCC) operates weekly cruises during the winter months around Phillip Island and in Western Port Bay to allow visitors to witness these majestic whales from up close. With an estimated 10% increase in Humpback Whale numbers every year, the number of whales sighted has increased significantly over the last 4 years. WCC has employed a marine biologist since 2013 to monitor the whale sightings trend.

Findings have demonstrated that whale sightings around Phillip Island have increased by at least 50% since 2012, with a record breaking number of 152 whales sighted in the region in 2015; 140 Humpback, 10 Killer and 2 Southern Right Whales. Naturally the increased whale sightings have driven an interest in whale watching tourism. WCC continues to offer the Whale Cruises and have seen an increase of 20% in passenger numbers over the last 3 years.

Since 2015 WCC has partnered with local research (Dolphin Research Institute) and nature-based tourism organisations (Phillip Island Nature Parks) to promote responsible whale watching tourism in the region.

These partnerships have led to successful initiatives including: (1) a free whale sightings SMS service for local residents, which now has 1000+ members compared to 50 members in 2014; (2) a free community event to launch the whale migration season with over 350 people attending over Queens Birthday weekend; (3) Two Bays Whale Project Facebook page – a place for all whale sightings and information on whales. These initiatives have demonstrated that involving the community in nature-based tourism has helped to put Phillip Island on the whale watching map of Australia.

The scaly & the slimy: a review of the use of herpetofauna in wildlife tourism

Ru Somaweera

Aaranya Wildlife Odysseys, Perth, Australia

Herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians) are facing a global decline, predominantly caused by anthropogenicaly-driven habitat change. One of the main challenges facing effective conservation of this group is the common negative perception regarding them and the inability of applying a monitory value to their conservation. Demonstrating a sustainable economic value for tourism could provide an economic rationale to conserve threatened species of herpetofauna and would increase public awareness on these species. In Australia, a world herpetological hotspot, reptiles and amphibians are highly under-utilised in the wildlife tourism industry apart from the saltwater crocodiles. There is substantial economic potential for using other iconic, charismatic as well as threatened herpetofauna for non-consumptive wildlife-based tourism, and if well managed and regulated, these initiatives can benefit in the long-term conservation of these species. Here I review examples from elsewhere in the world, discuss logistic and legal constraints, and summarise best practices for the Australian scenario.

Bat tourism in Cairns: Working with Local Government to achieve positive educational outcomes about flying-foxes.

Maree Treadwell Kerr 1 and Martin Cohen2

1 Australasian Bat Society and Cairns Regional Council Flying-fox Advisory Committee (CRC FFAC) 2 Wild about Australia and Chair CRC FFAC

Tourism has led to improved attitudes and conservation outcomes for controversial fauna such as wolves1,2 and crocodiles3, 4, 5. In the same way, bat tourism has the potential to conserve bat populations and provide social and economic benefits to local communities6.

Cairns is home to a number of camps of the spectacled flying-fox including one in the CBD which is visited nightly by tourists to watch the spectacular fly-out. Vital in its role in long-distance seed dispersal and pollination, the spectacled flying-fox is a keystone species to Queensland’s world heritage wet tropics. Populations of this species have decreased by 50% over the last decade and conservation efforts are needed to ensure its survival. However, like other bats, particularly flying-foxes within Australia, superstitions and fear of bats prevail and prolong negative attitudes and human hostility toward this species.

Two years ago the proposed management of the CBD flying-fox camp was to attempt to move and disperse the camp. However when confronted with the reality of high costs and unlikelihood of success, the local government formed a committee to provide advice on management of flying-foxes and develop community engagement and educational strategies. This advisory group comprises local councillors and staff, flying-fox researchers, ecologists and community representatives with experience in education, interpretation and bat care.

This partnership of local government, community and research, has been responsible for the creation and delivery of key communication messages to influence public attitudes and raise awareness of flying-foxes.

Bat tourism is an important part of the community engagement program, including a series of regular school holiday bat chats and an annual Bat Festival as part of the Australasian Bat Night program. The future potential for the program is high and we envision that Cairns could become a leader in bat tourism and community engagement.

This presentation will focus on how this partnership is working to engage the local community and tourists, its successes so far and the wildlife tourism potential of the spectacled flying-fox in the city of Cairns.


1 Margulis, J. (2013). Wolf Tourism Oregon Business Media.

2 Montag, J. M., Patterson, M. E., & Freimund, W. A. (2005). The wolf viewing experience in the Lamar valley of Yellowstone National Park. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 10(4), 273-284. doi:10.1080/10871200500292843

3 Braithwaite, D., Reynolds, P. and Pongracz, G. (1996) Wildlife Tourism at Yellow Waters – Final Report. Darwin: CSIRO Division of Wildlife and Ecology, Darwin and Northern Territory University.

4 Garnett, S. (1991) He could be your uncle from former life: He is certainly the best way to put the bite on the tourist dollar. GEO RAOU, 31–41.

5 Ryan, C. (1998) Saltwater crocodiles as tourist attractions. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 6 (4), 314–327.

6 Pennisi, L.A., Holland S. M. and Stein T.V. (2004) Achieving Bat Conservation Through Tourism, Journal of Ecotourism, 3:3, 195-207, DOI:10.1080/14664200508668432

The Great Australian Bat Trail: A Bat Tourism partnership proposal.

Maree Treadwell-Kerr

Australasian Bat Society and Wildlife Tourism Australia

Bat Tourism is a growing world market with bat tourism ventures starting up recently in islands in the Pacific, eg Tonga1 and the Philippines2. In Austin, Texas, bat tourism is big business with over 100,000 visitors generating $10m in revenue per annum3 coming to Austin just for the bats which roost under the Congress Ave Bridge. The Vacationer’s Guide to Bat Watching4 gives information on 125 bat watching sites throughout USA and Canada. Programs like European Bat Night (now International Bat Night5) and Australasian Bat Night6 have found a willing public wanting to learn more about these fascinating nocturnal animals, with sold out events with up to 500 participants.

In 2013, Carol Booth and Maree Treadwell, presented a proposal for a Bat Tourism Trail in Australia to the Australasian Bat Society’s (ABS) Financial AGM workshops in Brisbane. WTA was approached as a tourism partner to jointly develop the project. By mid-2013 the list of places to view bats contained 20 microbat and 45 flying-foxes venues contributed by ABS and WTA members.

The list, though not exhaustive, included seventeen flying-fox camps in Queensland. Unfortunately, the then LNP state government of Queensland began its program of dispersal of urban flying-fox camps and many of the listed camps were dispersed. The Bat Tourism project was shelved as more pressing work was needed to monitor dispersals and educate the public about flying-foxes to counter the often fallacious information given out by the government and media.

With a new state government in Qld, and many councils now opting for in-situ management of flying-foxes and interested in the potential of bat tourism, it is timely to revisit the proposal. I will discuss the partnership opportunities between local government, WTA and ABS for developing the proposal and present a preview of the trail.





4 Bat Conservation International. (1998) The Vacationer’s Guide to Bat Watching. University of Texas Press.



The Hidden Vale Project – Conservation, Research and Tourism

Andrew Tribe1, Ben O’hara1 and Peter Murray2

1 The Gainsdale Group

2 School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, University of Queensland

This paper describes and discusses the Hidden Vale Project – a long term endeavour which will combine the conservation of natural and cultural resources with the controlled use of natural resources for livestock production, ecotourism and adventure activities.

Hidden Vale Nature Refuge was established in January 2007 and comprises 3091 hectares of a 4000 hectare working cattle station. It also includes the Spicers Hidden Vale Retreat, a luxury resort, and is located on the Little Liverpool Ranges, in the Southeast Queensland bioregion, about one hour west of Brisbane.

This Nature Refuge provides suitable habitat for wide range of native wildlife, including several rare and threatened species that are listed ‘vulnerable’ according to Queensland’s Nature Conservation Act 1992, such as the koala, glossy black-cockatoos, powerful owls, Albert’s lyrebird, and the square-tailed kite.

Hidden Vale has entered into a long term cooperative venture with the University of Queensland to protect and enhance the wildlife on the property through a number of activities, including:

  • Managing and rehabilitating the natural habitat
  • Breeding and releasing local endangered species into suitable habitat

  • Rehabilitating and releasing wildlife endemic to the area

  • Providing research and education opportunities to the University of Queensland and other institutions

  • Development of wildlife activities and information for Spicers Retreat visitors.

This project promises to provide a multitude of worthwhile outcomes: it will support conservation by providing for a more natural balance (and numbers) of wildlife on this land, while also enhancing the experiences of the Retreat visitors by allowing them to observe and to learn about Australian wildlife at close hand.

Emerging wildlife tourism on Okunoshima Island (“Rabbit Island”) in Hiroshima, Japan: challenges and ethical implications  

Rie Usui1 and Carolin Funck2

1 (Graduate School of Integrated Arts and Sciences, Hiroshima University)

2 (Graduate School of Integrated Arts and Sciences, Hiroshima University)


Okunoshima Island (0.7 km2) in Hiroshima, Japan has been experiencing a rapid tourism boom in recent years. The total number of tourists including Japanese and international tourists visiting the island almost doubled from 117,301 in 2008 to 218,567 in 2015 owing to media exposure and a growing popularity in social networking sites (Takehara City, 2016). What draw their attention are 700 European rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) inhabiting the island and this feature gives the island its common names “Rabbit Island” and “Paradise of Rabbits.” Although the growing attention from tourists generated an economic boost, our concern remained in the well being of the rabbits. Therefore, we explored the current situation of Okunoshima Island through interviews with various stakeholders.

Our preliminary findings indicate that there are management obstacles due to the undefined roles and responsibilities for the different stakeholders involved. Despite the fact that the island belongs to Setonaikai National Park, a clear management vision regarding human-rabbit interaction is currently lacking. Presence of recreational facilities within the park further complicates this issue even though the island in principle is unhabituated.

In this presentation, we report a brief history of the island and challenges they encounter. We will then address ethical implications for wildlife tourism involving the rabbits on Okunoshima Island.

The development of a wildlife tourism experience to advance conservation efforts in the Way Kambas National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia.

Stephen Williams and Ashley Kelly

Guest Experience

The Way Kambas National Park in Sumatra, Indonesia is one of the last remaining biodiversity hotspots, home to some of the most critically endangered animals on the planet including the Sumatran Rhino and Sumatran Tiger. Competition for resources and conflict between wildlife and people has been found to erode local support for conservation. The elephant-human conflict situation is particularly problematic. The Taronga Conservation Society Australia is assisting with the development of a community-based wildlife tourism initiative intended to offset costs and encourage tolerance and stewardship towards wildlife conservation. The newly developed ‘Sumatran Wildlife Experience’ has been designed to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of this region.

Some of the benefits of this program are direct, such as the tangible financial benefits to local villages and conservation organisations; others are less tangible, such as increased visitors’ awareness of the status and complexity of sustainable conservation as well as increasing the local people’s awareness of the global significance of the wildlife in the region. Community-based ecotourism has become a popular tool for biodiversity conservation, based on the principle that biodiversity must pay for itself by generating economic benefits, particularly for local people. This partnership between Taronga Conservation Society Australia, the Indonesian Rhino Foundation, Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, Rhino Protection Unit, Elephant Response Unit and local National Parks authorities is a great example of a project that produce revenue for local communities and improves local attitudes towards wildlife conservation and environmental protection.