Interest Pieces

A Guide to Responsible Wildlife Tourism

When you’re on vacation somewhere, you might wonder if an animal watching tour is ethical. While not all wildlife watching ventures are good, in general, responsible wildlife tourism is an asset to endangered species. This type of tourism is an important tool in educating the public about the lives of endangered animals as it allows people to see firsthand how precious the wildlife is and how important it is to take measures to care for the animals. On a larger level, it also encourages governments to protect these species as they can see the benefits for the tourism industry. In an effort to help with saving wildlife species that are in danger, consider the following points when participating in wildlife tourism. 

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 Whales

Whale watching is a fantastic and fun activity that happens all over the world. Witnessing the majestic beauty of these incredible creatures at a close distance is an awe-inspiring experience that most don’t ever get to have. You’ll also be relieved to hear that whale watching also has some benefits to the whales, mainly that it demonstrates that whales have more worth alive than dead. While whales are cherished by many, they are still being hunted in Norway, Iceland and Japan. In Japan, commercial whaling still occurs despite a worldwide ban on it since 1986 by the International Whaling Commission. 

Dolphins

Everyone loves dolphins, right? They are incredibly smart, beautiful and friendly to humans. Yet, each year, tens of thousands of dolphins are killed by the fishing industry, either through intentional mass slaughters or as bycatch. In certain parts of the world, like in Taiji in Japan, whole pods are killed everyday as they see dolphins as pests who compete for seafood. While some dolphins are saved to be performers at amusement parks, there isn’t enough emphasis on the tourism of dolphins at sea. If there were, perhaps more would be alive today.

Elephants 

Don’t be deceived by the word “sanctuary” when it comes to elephant tourism. Unfortunately, many elephants are mistreated in the name of tourism, so beware of any place that lets you ride elephants. However, this does not mean that there is no ethical way to view elephants. The best way to see elephants is in the wild, through a safari in a National Park or wildlife reserve. The elephants should have the freedom to roam, just as you do.

A large part of wildlife conservation is keeping an eye on the endangered animals to make sure that they come to no harm. Wildlife tourism promotes the healthy co-existence with many incredible species around the world, which is why it is beneficial for the most part. Of course, you should always do your research before participating in any activities that involve wildlife populations.