Topics for wildlife tourism conference 2020

Back to main conference page

If you are thinking of contributing a paper, let us know which topic you think it most belongs to.


  • Innovation and diversity in wildlife tourism for economic growth and biodiversity conservation in regional areas
  • Wildlife/human interactions (positive and negative): enhancing the positive and mitigating the negative
  • Wildlife tourism protecting or restoring habitats and species
  • The forgotten wildlife: tourism involving reptiles, frogs, fish, invertebrates and the lesser-known mammals and birds
  • Visitor education for appreciation and understanding of wildlife: making it entertaining, memorable and meaningful
  • Citizen science and conservation volunteering in wildlife tourism
  • Climate change and wildlife tourism
  • Wildlife tourism in Asia and the Pacific

Innovation and diversity in wildlife tourism for economic growth and biodiversity conservation in regional areas

Areas remote from cities or major tourism resorts can sometimes an offer amazing experiences that many will consider well worth the travel time if it allows an experience of wildlife or habitats not readily seen elsewhere, or a combination of several appealing features, perhaps involving animals, plants or products not often promoted. It has the potential to raise the profile of a region, and to provide jobs for young and old who love the lifestyle of remote areas..

There can be the challenges:

  • accessibility (poor roads, especially after heavy rains)
  • lack of restaurants, shops or service stations etc. for use by visitors (in the outback these may be 200km or more away from a good wildlife-viewing area)
  • High-cost insurance premiums, permits, registrations, can also be prohibitive for small businesses that are seasonal or in early days of establishment.

How do we get over the hurdles? What are some good examples of where this has been accomplished?

Presentations are very welcome on examples of success stories, relevant research, reviews, and innovative ideas for future potential, .

Emus and other wildlife in remote regions may seem commonplace to local residents but fascinating to visitors from afar who want to see them in the wild rather than zoos.

Wildlife/human interactions (positive and negative): enhancing the positive and mitigating the negative

We’ll consider two main aspects:

  • Deliberate interactions between tourist and animal (in the wild or in captivity) – when is it okay and when not? Why do tourists seek interactions, and can such interactions enhance support for conservation?
  • Conflicts between landowners and wildlife – can tourism that includes a wildlife-viewing component contribute to solutions

Deliberate interactions during tours or t wildlife parks or ccommodation:

Positive aspects of interactions:

  • interactions – whether petting, feeding or just eye contact – can enhance a visitor’s appreciation of an animal.
  • Feeding can ensure sightings and photographs for tourists short on time or not fit enough for trekking.
  • Feeding can facilitate close encounters for education abut the animal
  • Some tourists show little interest in animals unless they can “do” something with them
  • Some find actual interaction very special and precious


  • A species may increase in population numbers to the detriment of others
  • Animals can be fed the wrong foods, affecting their health
  • Animals gathering regularly at a site can spread diseases among themselves
  • Animals may change their natural behaviour and spend less time eating natural foods
  • Stress and aggression towards each other can increase with crowding in feeing areas
  • Some become aggressive and even dangerous to people
  • Population increases and increased boldness of handfed animals can bring them into conflict with local human residents

How do we strike a balance?

We’ll consider the special case of feeding birds at our pubic forum, Sunday 21st June, and discuss various aspects during the conference itself

Photo: Inala Tours

Tourism helping solve human/wildlife conflicts:

In farming, grazing and rural residential areas where landowners have problems with wildlife and often regard them as pests, can the tourism dollar help to mitigate serious conflicts by assisting financially with:

  • appropriate fencing to separate wild predators from livestock or herbivores from crops? “Appropriate” fencing would for instance be sturdy enough to do the job, extending below the ground if necessary or netting above certain crops, but not presenting a danger to animals, such as entanglement or preventing essential movements of wildlife (e.g. between feeding/drinking/resting/breeding areas or long migration routes).
  • compensation for losses by famers? This is accomplished in parts of Africa for instance, resulting in less calls for lions and leopards to be eradicated
  • nonlethal deterrents around crops, gardens or domestic animals? Fires or lights at night, various sights, sounds and smells etc.
  • paying farmers for access to good bird-watching or other wildlife-viewing locations on their properties?
  • employing local landowners who are also wildlife enthusiasts to act as local guides

Wildlife tourism protecting and rehabilitating habitats and species

If nothing else, wildlife tourism can provide an economic reason for preserving habitat that would otherwise be cleared for other pursuits, and indicate an economic value of animals that could otherwise be seen by politicians, developers or residents as pests or simply of no use. If residents can also be encouraged to see non-monetary values, by public events, social media etc. by tour operations, perhaps in conjunction with conservation and amateur naturalist associations,, so much the better!

Wildlife tourism operations also can positively enhance conservation by buying and preserving wildlife habitat, re-establishing native habitats in disturbed areas, and conservation breeding and rehabilitation of rare species.

We would like to hear further positive examples of such contributions to conservation by wildlife tourism operations, and discuss future possibilities.

(One of our keynote speakers, Peter Gash) will tell of remarkable transformation of Lady Elliot Island from highly-degraded to well-vegetated and harbouring the second-highest bird diversity on the Grea Barrier Reef).

Tasmanian devil
Tasmanian devil. Photo [email protected], an example of conservation breeding of several threatened species

The forgotten wildlife

When tourists think of wildlife they often think of large or charismatic mammals, especially famous ones like kangaroos and koalas, maybe also large reptiles such as crocodiles or pythons or large fish such as whale sharks or manta rays. Unless they are keen birdwatchers, they may only think of large birds such as emus and eagles or colourful and active ones such as parrots and cockatoos as wildlife.

Wildlife tourism can however involve much more. We will discuss tourism involving:

  • lesser known mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs and fish, and how to capture the tourists’ imagination with these
  • invertebrates – reef animals, butterflies, glow worms, even spiders
Richmond Birdwing butterfly. Photo: Araucaria Ecotours

Visitor education for appreciation and understanding of wildlife: making it entertaining, memorable and meaningful

Tourists are on holiday, generally not wanting formal school-room type education or inapparently meaningless list of big names. But they usually do want to learn something about the place they’re visiting and the animals that live there.

To keep their attention, guides generally need to entertain their guests while relaying information, but the style of such entertainment will differ between audiences, and can be challenging with mixed groups.

If we want to convey important (meaningful) messages to our guests – whether just showing how fascinating a particular animal is, or what they can do for conservation – it must be memorable as well

We’ll discuss techniques for achieving all of the above, and our mid-conference field trip is centred around his topic.

Wildlife Tourism Ausralia’s Wildlife Interpretation workshop at Binna Burra. Photo: Araucaria Ecotours

Citizen science and conservation volunteering in wildlife tourism

Some wildlife tour operators engage in some kind of research or monitoring, or assist academic researchers. Sometimes this can be as simple as monitoring presence/absence and sending data to the Atlas of Living Australia, or it can be part of a simple or complex research program with specific questions to seek answers to.

Tourists can sometimes join in as citizen scientists while on holiday. Simple tasks can be given to those with little experience, but scientists travel too, and can sometimes tackle more difficult assignments. Training can be provided on multi-day(or multi-week) excursions.

We would like o hear of success stories, problems encountered and how these might be solved, and ideas for involving tour operations and tourists in collecting and collating valid information for important research programs, whether they bee for conservation issues or to enhance our general understanding of wildlife behaviour and ecology.

Citizen scientist estimating coral bleaching. Photo by Coral Watch

Climate change and wildlife tourism

Australia has already lost one mammal – the Bramble Cay Melomys – as sea water invaded the habitat it depends on. Others are likely to be lost in the future. Coral bleaching is becoming progressively more severe, flying foxes are dying in large numbers in prolonged heatwaves, eucalypt leaves may become less digestible for koalas, pollinator season may get out of phase with flowering seasons etc.

We will discuss potential dangers and what tourism might do to assist (e.g. educating visitors about climate change effects on wildlife, demonstrating the use of renewable energy, breeding of threatened species, enhancing habitats and establishing movement corridors …… other ideas?)

Spectacled flying foxes in Cairns

Wildlife tourism in Asia and the Pacific

Wildlife tourism is growing throughout Australia’s neighbouring regions in Asia and the Pacific. Noel Scott and Ronda Green spent much time last year assembling a report for the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), with the help various experts, on sustainable wildlife tourism in Asia and the Pacific, and we’re waiting for the report become available on their website. We will report on this, and the cases selected as representing good practice.

Several of our members and conference delegates are also from Asia.

Collectively we will discuss the great diversity of offerings throughout the region, and progress in environmentally-sustainable practices.

Entry to Bornean Sunbear Conservation Centre, Sabah. Photo: Araucaria Ecotours

Back to main conference page