Can wildlife tourism help conserve our endangered species?
There are one set of people who believe that allowing wildlife tourism can actually harm the endangered spices (e.g.: tiger) rather than help them conserve. There is another set of people who believe the exact contrary. I belong to the second group and here are the reasons why.
Poaching is a HUGE market
Today, poaching is a multi-billion dollar market and when is comes to tigers, poaching still continues not only for bones for Chinese medicine but for skins for fashion in Tibet and China. The only way to protect tigers is through official legislation and better policing which many charities lobby for. But through well managed tiger tourism, the countries that are home to these beautiful animals can benefit from the financial income brought into their economy and realize that protecting tigers isn’t just good for their image but also good for their pockets. Increasing numbers of tourists will also raise awareness of the plight of the tiger and help increase publicity for the campaigners. If this is one angle to it, there is another angle which is far more critical.
Tourism negates Poaching
Indian forests are filled with local people (forest tribes) who live off the forests and are always pushing the forest boundaries and hence reducing the habitat area and hence endangering the wildlife. Unless their livelihood is taken care of, they will continue to hurt Wildlife for their selfish interests. Today due to wildlife tourism, local economy is booming and they understand that all this works as long as animals are persevered and protected. If this tourism is stopped even for a short duration, livelihood of locals will get adversely affected. The locals, local guards and gypsy owners will face severe losses as their business will be hit. The gypsy owners will find it very difficult to pay the EMI of their vehicles. In such a case, there are chances that they might resort to some illicit activities for generating income, including helping poachers, which will hamper protection of forest and endangered species.
Overall we feel that wildlife tourism is overall very helpful to help the whole wildlife conservation & protection.
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PS: Please be a responsible wildlife tourist; No littering, No sounds, No feeding, no getting down from the safari jeep (when on safari), No phone calls. Remember that we are visiting their home and when we are there, let’s follow their rules.
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