The Essential Guide to Wildlife Tourism

Oh, baby, it’s a wild world

People go to great lengths to see exotic animals when traveling

Braving the freezing cold of Antarctica to spot penguins, shelling out to experience the great migrations of the Serengeti, and diving into shark-infested waters in Australia to swim with, well, sharks – travelers will do anything to get closer to the nature. But animal tourism isn’t always so cute and cuddly. Undomesticated animals kept in captivity for tourists, from “zoos” to elephant corrals, are frequently mistreated and abused.

However, there are still ways to see animals ethically on your vacation – by choosing wildlife outfitters, safari lodges, sanctuaries and tourism experiences that are committed to animal welfare and conservation. habitat preservation. Finding ethical organizations doesn’t have to be a wild goose chase. In this guide, you’ll find resources to help you discern what makes an animal experience ethical, as well as tips for planning your next trip, whether in the United States or abroad. And, to really get you in the mood, check out our stories of animal lovers from around the world, from a burgeoning ‘cranial’ to a self-proclaimed safari enthusiast.

—Mae Hamilton

The ABC of animal tourism

Photo by Daniel Diesenreither/Unsplash

Is there ethical wildlife tourism?

I will never forget the first time I saw a bull hook. In the late 90s, I visited the Big Apple Circus in New York. Performers and crew members preparing for the night’s show raced through an atmosphere that smelled of caramelized cotton candy, hot peanuts and animal manure. I was standing near a staging area when I saw a young girl dressed in a sparkly costume and walking with an elephant. She was holding a big pole with a metal hook on the end and I asked her what it was for. She raised her arm, grimaced fiercely, and said, “To hit them when they don’t obey.” My face flushed with shame – I considered myself an animal lover. Yet I did not know that elephants suffered for my entertainment. I felt stupid and sad. And I swore to myself to know more.

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Everything you need to know about wildlife corridors and where to see them

Yeah, yeah, we all know why the chicken crossed the road. But to understand how a chicken could crossing the road – especially in the age of six-lane highways and level crossings – is a much more pressing issue for conservation biologists. The answer to the riddle could be wildlife corridors, which provide a “bridge” between habitats that have been separated by human activity. From elephant underpasses to crab bridges, these animal-friendly trails provide safe passage for all manner of creatures and score big points for communities interested in ecotourism.

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Straight from the horse’s mouth

Photo by Beliphotos/Shutterstock

The Great Nebraska Migration of Sandhill Cranes and the Birders Who Love Them

I arrive in Kearney, Nebraska, in pitch darkness and step out of my rental Buick at the Best Western Plus. I am first greeted by a smell of wind: the striking, wild, pungent certificate of breeding. It’s fantastic. I am here.

It’s spring and sandhill cranes are making their annual journey north along the central flyway from southern Texas to northern Canada. For a few weeks, these three- to four-foot-tall waders will pause along this 75-mile stretch of Nebraska’s Platte River to stock up on food – leftovers from last year’s corn harvest – and roost at night in large numbers. in the shallow waters of the river.

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Botswana’s Chobe Game Lodge is changing safaris with all-female guide teams

As guests arrive at Kasane International Airport in northeastern Botswana, a female driver begins loading luggage into an open-top jeep. Dressed in a khaki uniform with a neatly tied red and white scarf around her neck, she helps newcomers into her vehicle and navigates the city’s tarmac roads until she arrives at the park entrance. Chobe National. As she navigates the park’s bumpy dirt road, she shows fever berry trees in bloom, starlings soaring overhead, and a savannah elephant plodding along while her passengers ooh and ahh. She pauses for a moment to breathe the air of the plains, before continuing to join her 19 other safari guides at the Chobe Game Lodge, all women.

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This lion safari gives travelers a deeper insight into wildlife conservation in Africa

I had barely landed at Phinda airport when I saw lions for the first time.

I looked out the window of the bush plane at andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve, located in a remote corner of South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, and I couldn’t believe my eyes. About half a dozen sleepy felines taking shade under an acacia near the tarmac began to rise from their nap. They stretched, then meandered away from the noise of our propellers. I’ve been on nearly two dozen safaris in East and Southern Africa, and lion sightings are rarely so easy. It’s as if these cats knew I was on a lion-themed safari and were there to greet me as I started my journey.

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Journalist Peter Martell explains how conservation has brought Kenyan communities together

Peter Martell is a British journalist who has spent the past two decades as a correspondent for the BBC and Agence France-Presse, covering war, famine and climate change in East Africa. His second book, Flowers for elephants: How a conservation movement in Kenya offers lessons for all of us (March 2022, Hurst Publishers), includes many of these themes, but in a new and inspiring way. It tells the incredible story of how communities in northern Kenya worked together to create a network of protected lands over an area larger than Switzerland.

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