|Last chance to see endangered wildlife around the world|
The Bali tiger and the Tasmanian wolf has gone the way of the dodo. The mountain gorillas, Sumatran rhino and Bengal tiger are not be far behind and unless we, as travellers, are all prepared to take a responsibility in their welfare many more will follow.
1. When you hire guides or arrange a trip with a trekking operator you take a responsibility for their behaviour. As the client you have the right (and the moral obligation) to complain if an operator is not working in as environmentally sound a way as possible. Coming from a paying client a sensitively worded complaint (along with an explanation) could have some lasting effect.
2. Don’t buy crafts made of animal parts or made from sensitive natural habitat. Few sensible travellers these days would buy souvenirs made from turtle-shell or ivory. On the spur of the moment an impulse purchase of a shell necklace or a coral bracelet can seem completely ok however...until you give it a moment’s thought later and realise that these things were harvested from sensitive environments that were established long before the first human city.
3. Don’t make the mistake of buying animals from local people in a well-meaning effort to free them. It can be heart-rending to turn your back on wild animals that are sure to die in a local village but buying them only leads to an increase of trapping or hunting when word gets around that tourists will pay good money for these pitiful creatures.
4. Consider working as a volunteer on an environmental (or social) study during your RTW. Helping to protect rhinos in Kenya or jaguars in Costa Rica could turn out to be the highlight of your trip and will often give you an insight into an area that you could never hope to acquire as a ‘mere tourist.’ Earthwatch Institute (www.earthwatch.org) are looking for volunteers on more than 100 wildlife projects in locations all over the world.
5. In most countries national park fees are not excessively expensive yet many travellers feel that it is perfectly ok to find a back way in to avoid those costs if it can easily be done. The few dollars extra you are paying is crucial to the existence of the park...and without the park there will be no animals.
6. Support good, well-run zoos that are active in conservation...but condemn and boycott badly run zoos. These sorry institutions can only exist through public admission fees and it is preferable even that the animals starve (or, hopefully, are relocated) than that these zoos continue to operate.
7. As a traveller you are able to report on situations that many people will not be aware of. If you find a worthy cause or a wonderful wildlife trip that seems to be making changes for the good then tell your friends and sing some praises (on Facebook, Twitter etc). If you come across a bad situation that needs to be exposed...then you too are in a position to do it. Tell the world what you saw.