Ecotourism can save lives and planet.
Though humans (at least some of them) are beginning to realize the magnitude of climate change now, the other species that we share the earth with, have been at the receiving end of its ill effects for several decades now.
Travelers are not just people moving around the planet to click pictures or dress up. They are the life-line that does what the primate nature of humans required it to do – to explore and discover. As we engage ourselves on any journey on this planet, we need to remember the power and responsibility we move with, towards the other life forms swimming, walking and flying in the same spheres as we do.
Being responsible practitioners of ecotourism, can make our experiences four times more meaningful and save the lives of others. Here is what it means to travel on the principles of ecotourism, while keeping in mind are friends with paws, fins and wings.
Tourism at wildlife locations can be responsible for the wear and tear of the ecosystem or play an essential role in preserving them, depending on how it’s done. Tourist or travel activities that involve our direct interaction with other species are safaris in wildlife parks, scuba diving or traveling though boat to witness the marine life, and look at the whales and dolphins. Various spots around the world open up at different points of the year to look at the migrating flamingos that are visiting their lands.
Responsible eco-travelers will keep in mind that ‘money’ acts as a huge motivation for locals to preserve the wildlife instead of hunting them. The choices you make determine the quality of life for various animals and even whether the fact that they get hunted down or not. A choice of refusing to buy souvenirs made up of real animal parts, refusing to visit places that do not protect basic life rights of these animals, and opting for cruelty free tourism, will encourage the government and locals to preserve the wildlife, and take good care of them. Remember the idea is to work with the locals, respect and understand their values and culture, and then operating with a cruelty free mindset. Making wiser choices makes your travel experience more meaningful, helps the local economy, and takes the world towards a more empathetic and loving community.
Remember that in spite of the monetary power you might have as a tourist, your moral ground does hold more importance. Over interacting and interfering in feeding practices can actually count as harassment towards animals. We might enjoy feeding or playing with the animals, but it is usually not natural for these species to be in such environments and can be extremely harmful for them. Tourists can often act entitled just because they paid or took the effort to come to a certain place. Either way, as travelers we have to be mindful and responsible about our boundaries in seeking new experiences and interfering and exploiting someone else’s ecosystem. Always be in touch with a localite and make sure your interactions with the locals don’t cross any boundaries.
Before making any trip, research well about the cultural and legal activities of cities in concern with animals. Have a sufficiently deep understanding of how any institution, formal or informal, treats their animals, and the kind of role animals are ‘expected’ to play when the travellers visit and how are they made to do so. Alternatively, if you don’t have time for that, hire or connect with a localite from the global community of localites to help you understand the local culture and traditions.
Having talked about the kind of mindset that is at the core of ecotourism, we still need to point out a few obvious points, like leave any ecosystem with only footprints and nothing else. Take any kind of trash irrespective of whether it is biodegradable or not, back with you, or dispose of it in ways locals expect you to. Do not use plastic, glass or any material that could be even remotely harmful for any species.
A research from Australia’s Griffith University used population viability modelling and developed simulation methods to quantify the impact of ecotourism on threatened species.
They took into account both the positive and negative effects of ecotourism and cumulative births and deaths of several threatened species, and on other ecological parameters such as degradation in the quality of habitat, population of predators, hunting activities etc, across nine generations of a species. We will skip the simulations and predictions, but the bottom line suggested that ecotourism can be the critical difference between the survival and extinction of rare and endangered species among various birds and mammals.
As a global community of travelers and hosts, localites, encourages each and every member to make wiser travel choices, and travel not to simply explore, but to save lives and uplift economies. A truly ‘green’ vacation is healthy for both the traveler and the environment.
Join the global community of localites and support and understand how ecotourism can help our planet and make a better future. Download the community app from Google Play or App Store and start your journey today!
Thanks for reading.
Have a good day!
localites - travel the real world