Changing wildlife tourism

I recently created a project where I compiled observations of wildlife tourism activities in Peru and the nearby borders that I believe need to be changed. These include wildlife selfies, capturing wild animals just for selfies (this is quite controversial, specially for herpers!), and feeding wildlife (feeders).

I’m not against posting these photos on iNat, as I think it’s a good wayto keep track of which species are affected, where is this happening, and what’s the tourist interest when interacting with wildlife.

In these last days I’ve come across two articles that show how bad these problems might be, and that tourists and tourism agencies where purposely ignoring:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8100045/Hungry-monkeys-Thailand-fight-banana-tourists-stay-way-coronavirus.html

https://phys.org/news/2020-03-wildlife-disrupt-animal-social.html

These show that there’re more impact to feeding wildlife than we previously thought. The impact of wildlife selfies has been lately covered vastly by natgeo, but it’s still going strong in some countries like mine.

So if you know these activities happen in your country, I recommend you compile them in a project to better understand the issue, hopefully this way we can gather enough data to propose a solution to our different governments.

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South Africa has huge issues around - come and play with lion cubs, which are part of the breeding to export lion bones trade. Volunteers pay to ‘help lion conservation’. Those lions, bred for bones, are kept in appalling conditions, half starved.

Partly for a cute selfie of my kid cuddling a baby lion.

Another issue is elephant rides. Also nothing whatever to do with conservation.

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Awareness is certainly the first step… It is human nature to get carried away in the moment, and we all need someone to speak up and say “should we really be doing this?”. That person is not always popular at the time though. And that extends from the self all the way out to organisations and governments

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As the observer for four of the observations in this project, I applaud your effort, and would welcome comments on those observations elaborating on your concerns. All of my observations from Central and South America were on birding tours. While I enjoyed them very much, I would have actually preferred tours that don’t involve feeders, despite the fact that that would result in fewer species sighted. The welfare of these wonderful animals is far more important.

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You might be interested in Anne E. Russon’s book Primate Tourism: A Tool for Conservation?.

It lays out a compelling case, using primary sources, case studies, and research papers, that contrary to being a useful and helpful tool for conservation, wildlife and nature tourism generally do more harm than good. The focus of the book is, of course, primates, but it’s broader than just that and some of the research papers delve more into the issue of nature tourism in general.

There are, of course, exceptions to this generality, and how individuals act makes an enormous difference.

This topic was actually the subject of a presentation I gave at the last International Primate Society conference.

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Its a good project and I think you should avoid damaging its credibility with links to Daily Mail articles.

In February 2017, the English Wikipedia deprecated the Daily Mail as an “unreliable source” to use as a reference in Wikipedia. Its use as a reference is now “generally prohibited, especially when other more reliable sources exist”.[13][173] Support for the ban centred on “the Daily Mail’s reputation for poor fact checking, sensationalism, and flat-out fabrication”.[13]>

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daily_Mail

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Yeah thats true, but for me part of the fun (whether if you are alone, as part of a tour, or with like-minded people) is that element of uncertainty…you never know what you might encounter!

I have a feeling that its just that uncertainty which motivates some wildlife tours to include things like wildlife selfies etc, as that really just caters for the individual tourist’s satisfaction (and of course that will help business) rather than for the deeper purpose of promoting awareness of the natural world for conservation.

The tours I went on didn’t have anyone taking selfies of any kind that I know of, but I quit going on them when people with their giant cameras and no consideration for the people they just stood in front of made me decide that I was done with that.

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Yes, I would definitely be quite bummed if a whole gang of people with big cameras barged in together at once.