There are plenty of no-go’s when it comes to animal tourism, like elephant riding or tiger selfies. We know these practices have been condemned by animal welfare groups and the general population, due to the cruel nature of animals kept in captivity. While tourism can have a negative impact on animals, there are still ways to see animals in the wild without causing them harm. Here is a list of 4 ways to show your love and respect for animals while travelling:
1. Whale and dolphin watching
These popular tours can bring you up close and personal with two of the ocean’s most majestic and intriguing animals. The key to a great whale or dolphin watching experience is finding a responsible tour operator. An ethical tour operator will always favour education over sensation, and will share their knowledge with you, giving you a detailed talk before and during the experience. These highly intelligent animals will also be watching you at the same time, which is why it’s important to keep a distance away so as not to encroach on their territory.
2. Big Five Safaris
Safaris are a great way to see animals in the wild while supporting the local communities, who often run them. Some safaris will join with conservation charities to educate their workers as well as the tourists who choose to come along. By choosing a safari with ethical credentials you can support animal welfare projects designed to aid the conservation of some of the endangered animals.
3. Orangutan watching in Gunung Leuser National Park
Gunung Leuser National Park is home some of Asia’s most impressive mammals, including the orangutan, tiger, elephant, rhinoceros and vast birdlife. It is known for its fascinating orangutan tour. While sightings are not guaranteed, the feeding platform gives you a good chance to see these inquisitive primates up close.
4. Penguin watching
On Victoria’s Phillip Island, you can see the world’s smallest penguins in their natural habitats from the viewing stands and boardwalks, as they emerge from the water into their homes in the sand dunes. If you live in Sydney, Manly is one of the best places for penguin watching. Between July and February, the Fairy Penguins come to nest by the Manly Wharf. The penguin population in Manly is smaller than the one on Phillip Island, so it’s not always possible to see them in their natural habitat. If you do see a little penguin, avoid flash photography as it disorientates them.
If you’re still unsure about seeing animals while travelling, ask yourself:
- Does the animal have food and water?
- Does the animal have shelter?
- Is the animal in pain or distress?
- Is the animal behaving naturally?
- Is the animal living in its natural habitat?