Guide to become an Eco – Conscious Traveller
By Conservation Guardians
So you are a tourist or traveller embarking on a well-earned vacation to Africa and wishing to explore, explore, explore….You consider yourself a person who loves nature and you care about the planet and natural spaces. You love wildlife and consider yourself a person who makes a difference in small ways.
Are you then one of those people who cannot resist the temptation to cuddle a lion cub?
I mean, you have been told that it is going to be released into the wild and your tourism experience is after all conservation education, is it not?
Really? Why is it that informed and educated people actually spend well earned dollars cuddling a lion cub thinking that they are contributing to conservation, and what is conservation anyway?
The global community of travellers interested in wildlife experiences create the demand that is resulting in a supply of different experiences involving wild animals. This supply unfortunately resides in predominantly third world countries where legislation fails the good care of these wild animals.
Without the demand, the supply would not be sustained, so it is critical that we have an open discussion about the responsibility of the traveller in influencing what happens at grass routes tourism.
Let me share with you how powerful the need of some reserves is to serve the will of the tourist. The influence extends beyond that of interactive wildlife experience to top-end game reserves. Reserve managers who should be managing the reserves for biodiversity are now being influenced to manage the reserve for tourism. This means that the shareholders are driving their reserve managers to hold popular animals on their reserves to attract tourists who want to see these popular animals, however do not have the space or biodiversity to support these particular species. Let’s take lion species for example. Very popular amongst tourists and a definite attraction if a reserve holds lions.
But in the instances where the reserve cannot sustain the lion on their reserve they begin manipulating the management of the lion in various ways. The most obvious is placing the lion in camps where they feed them artificially. Other strategies are to create coalition groups where the lion males commit infanticide to reduce the population growth.The former strategy usually disappoints the tourist when they realise the lion are in camps. And in the case of the latter example, the tourists are never told the facts.
Conservation Guardians recognises the need to educate the visitor and guide them responsibly. If the tourism demand is informed and focused on enjoying nature for its biodiversity rather than seeing a lion kill, this tourist demand will inspire a focus on biodiversity conservation rather than an animal centric approach.
It is important that tourists know that there is a world conservation strategy that is biodiversity focused and not animal focused. This strategy places the emphasis on us protecting natural spaces that are rich in biodiversity. Healthy eco-systems should be our focus because it is these eco-systems that support and sustain wildlife populations.
Conservation Guardians has designed a Conservation Achievement Score that works in tandem with the criteria set by the IUCN to achieve biodiversity targets. Countries who are signatories to the commitment to achieve these biodiversity targets are committed to conserve biodiversity and meet the area targets set out.
We believe that the disconnect between tourism structures and conservation structures has caused this simple but straightforward oversight. The Conservation Guardians ‘Conservation Achievement Score’ identifies places with high conservation integrity and highlights these places for the tourist to understand that if they go to these places, their spend will be invested into ‘real’ conservation efforts.
Our vision is to nurture a global community of conscious travellers.