Many of us dream about seeing an elephant on safari, or tracking gorillas in the wild! When done properly your wildlife travels can have a huge benefit on wildlife conservation!
But it’s important that your wildlife holiday is done properly in a responsible way, or you may actually end up hurting wildlife, instead of helping it. Take the famed Tiger Temple in Thailand, which was recently closed down. Tourists would pose with tigers or bottle feed cubs. It sounds like an incredible opportunity to get up close place with one of the world’s most majestic cats right? Not to mention that it brought in a cool $5.7 million dollars each year to the monks who ran the place!
It’s now being described as hell by numerous media outlets for the 147 tigers who lived there. Animal activists have long said that the tigers were kept in awful conditions, underfed, beaten, and drugged – to make their interactions safe for tourists. Recently, it’s come to light, after 40 dead cubs were found in the freezer that they were being bred for illegal trade.
But when done correctly, wildlife tourism can have a positive impact on wildlife conservation. That’s why I was eager to interview Megan Devenish, the Product and Responsible Tourism Manager for Exodus Travels. The company has been a pioneer in responsible travel ever since their inception in 1974, long before it was considered to do so. Today, Exodus Travels offers 89 wildlife holidays and is continually pushing the standard for responsible tourism – like being one of the first companies to omit elephant rides from their itineraries and replacing them with alternative elephant interactions that are better for the elephants. And if you want to see tigers in a way that actually helps, not harms them, check out their Land of the Tiger tour. Your visit actually helps their conservation work in the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, which you can read all about here.
Q. Do you believe wildlife tourism, if managed properly, can play a role in conservation?
A. Absolutely! One of the greatest examples of that is the conservation success is the gorilla tracking.
I saw this first hand when I visited Rwanda to observe the mountain gorillas and was really impressed with how much the locals were involved. It thrilled me to no end to learn that a large portion of the funds raised went directly to both the mountain gorillas and to the locals – giving them further incentive to protect these highly endangered apes.