A network of tour operators, ecolodge or zoo staff and others interested in research
Wildlife Tourism Australia is developing a network of people within the wildlife tourism industry involved in scientific research. The purpose of this network is to enhance communication between operators involved in research, nurture the partnership between wildlife tourism and the scientific community, and facilitate citizen science, the endeavour of scientific discovery in Australia, the monitoring of conservation problems and projects, and the expansion of our knowledge of natural history.
The research may include:
- basic science research conducted by (a) tourism staff who have a scientific background, (b) tourism staff without a scientific background but working with scientists or (c) primarily by scientists outside the tourism operation but assisted by it (access to facilities, transport etc.)
- monitoring of changes (e.g. seasonal differences, response to new developments, progress of habitat restoration plots, response to weather fluctuations or climate change)
- natural history observations (notes on behaviour of animals, what they feed on, interactions etc. not destined for scientific publication but collectively of general interest and conducive to new hypotheses for further research)
- research on wildlife tourism itself (e.g. economic value to local communities, interpretation that is memorable,minimal-impact wildlife-viewing)
- some of the above may involve the assistance of tourists and other volunteers
Types of research involving tourism operators
Casual and informal research tourism
Many tours, ecolodge holidays etc. include some research amongst other things (e.g. whale-watching tours where guests are asked to look out for whales and to photograph their tails for identification of individuals traveling on their migration routes).
Specialised research tourism
However, other companies – e.g. Earthwatch (worldwide) and Eye to Eye Marine Encounters (Port Douglas) – are specifically set up for research involving tourists either as active researchers or interested onlookers.
How to get involved:
- As a scientist requiring assistance from tour operators
- As a tour operator already engaged in research or wanting to be
- As a tourist wanting to volunteer as a research assistant: