International travel is one of the biggest contributors to global emissions. So is it hypocritical to want to save the planet AND travel?
What is Ecotourism?
Ecotourism is a form of sustainable travel, focussing on reducing the impact of humans on local biodiversity. It supports local communities and wildlife initiatives by funnels tourist dollars into the region. Ecotourism is designed purposefully to reduce its negative impact on the environment. It’s an excellent way for people to not only experience other cultures and see wildlife in their natural habitats, but also know that the money you are spending goes into preserving those cultures and biodiversity.
How Does Ecotourism Benefit Wildlife Conservation?
When Ecotourism is done correctly, the money that comes in from tourism is funnelled straight back into the community as well as local conservation programs.
When people think of ecotourism they often envision safari tours. These tours are conducted upon nature preserves and are often run by nonprofit organisations. So the money that’s generated not only keeps everything running but also protects the environment and cares for animals. Such programs fight back against the possible extinction of hundreds of species around the world.
Are There Any Downsides To Wildlife Ecotourism?
As with anything else, Ecotourism does have its downsides. One of the major issues affecting the good work that Ecotourism aims to do is overtourism. If too many people come to an area there can be issues with waste management and the degradation of local land to accommodate the increased number of visitors. In order to combat this, organisations hosting Ecotourism programs need to carefully plan for increased numbers of visitors and put in place regulations to avoid density issues.
Where Can I Experience Wildlife Ecotourism?
There are many places around the world that have wildlife ecotourism programs. Here are three that come highly recommended by Dr Pye herself.
The one Dr Pye holds most dear to her heart. The BSBCC is a sun bear rescue and rehabilitation centre located in Sabah, Borneo and the founder and Director is Dr Wong Siew Te, the hero of Sarah’s books. This organisation actively encourages and relies on the help of volunteers to continue its fantastic work. Click here to find out more about volunteer opportunities.
In 2020 (just before Covid shut down international travel) Sarah participated in a cultural tourism project in Sri Lanka and was lucky enough to visit this incredible national park. It offers a range of safari tours and cultural experiences to guests. You can stay in cottages on park grounds and enjoy the natural environment each day while you learn all about the local wilderness.Or you can volunteer with XXXX, and give back more than just your money!
Sarah also participated in a cultural tourism project in Kruger National Park, together with SANParks. You can stay on park grounds and get up close and personal with the wildlife or stay at a hotel nearby. They offer a range of tours to suit any and all budgets.
Where Should I Go First?
Not sure what to pick? Do they all sound amazing? Why not consider a trip to the BSBCC with Dr Sarah Pye herself! In 2024 Sarah is hosting a 10 day tour through Sabah, Borneo to visit the BSBCC and meet Dr Wong. Take a fabulous guided tour across this beautiful country and experience all the incredible wildlife that exists nowhere else on the planet.
Article written by Teighlor Banks