On April 22nd we will come around to another Earth Day; a day to honour the worldwide environmental movements that are helping to, literally, save our planet. This year’s theme “Protect Our Species” will come as no surprise to some. Recent news reveals shocking statistics that indicate about 60 percent of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles have been wiped out by human activity since 1970.
The 49th annual Earth Day theme aims to drive major policy victories that protect broad groups of species, as well as individual species and their habitats. We are entering a period of transparency where unethical practices, including illegal wildlife trade and unsustainable agriculture, can no longer hide from the public eye. We know that wildlife is in a disturbing state of decline; we know the cause and effect (yes, it is us) and we know what needs to be done to slow the rate of extinctions. It is now time to band together and collectively make a difference.
One way that we can achieve this is by supporting responsible wildlife interactions. For decades tourists have participated in tourism that involves the harm and exploitation of animals. Traffickers have taken advantage of this lucrative business, which has led to animals being removed from their natural habitats. Only recently a report by World Animal Protection unveiled findings that captive dolphins at one of the island’s entertainment venues had their teeth filed down or removed entirely, to ensure that they are unable to inflict serious bites on swimmers.
Impact Travel Alliance urges tourists to choose ethical wildlife encounters as a way to join the movement to protect our species. “Seeing wildlife in their natural habitat can become some of our most vivid travel memories. I was deeply impacted by a trip to Uganda where I watched gorillas go about their daily lives in the Bwindi National Park and I bonded deeply with elephants while interacting with them at a conservation park in Thailand,” said Kelley Louise, Impact Travel Alliance founder and executive director. “It’s important to take the time to research and book wildlife tours that put the animals and their environment first.”
Impact Travel Alliance is the world’s largest community for impact-focused travellers and travel professionals. The organisation aims to educate and empower travellers on how to spend their money mindfully so that their experiences empower locals and protect our environment.
View this post on Instagram
Related reading: 10 of the world’s best places for wildlife spotting
Below is a list of several responsible organisations in the Impact Travel Alliance community helping travellers see and protect Earth’s wildlife.
- Travel to Sequoia National Park with Atlas Obscura and expert biologists to track, conduct research on and help protect wild bumblebee populations and explore this peaceful landscape.
- Stay in Playa Viva’s sustainable hotel in Mexico and participate in the Playa Viva Turtle Sanctuary’s efforts to protect leatherback sea turtle eggs from predators.
- Red panda conservation is a priority in Nepal. Royal Mountain Travel is a part of the Climate Trek Nepal team developing a climate-friendly trekking route north of Kathmandu through some of the protected areas where these highly endangered pandas can still be found in the wild.
- Go whale watching with marine naturalists from PacWhale Eco-Adventures off Maui. Tour profits support the Pacific Whale Foundation’s research, education and conservation programs.
- Wild Sumatra takes travellers jungle trekking to find Sumatran tigers and sun bears while supporting tiger conservation projects in the Kerinci Seblat National Park and ensuring trip costs support the local economy.
- Explore Chumbe Island Coral Park, the first marine protected area in the world, with Earth Changers. Located off the coast of Zanzibar, the island’s conservation, research, education centre and ecolodge are fully funded by travellers.
- Take a guided hike or a 4×4 tour of the Alladale Wilderness Reserve from Alladale Lodge in Scotland. The lodge works to restore the Highland ecosystem, actively participating in the reintroduction of original plant and wildlife species and recovery of the threatened Scottish wildcat.
- Above Safaris places conservation at the forefront of its trips to witness the great migration through Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.
- Cruise the Galapagos Islands, famous for amazing animal species found nowhere else in this world, with G Adventures, which includes animal welfare in its responsible tourism policies.
- Global Family Travels offers a family-friendly safari in Zimbabwe complete with game drives, walking safaris and a day at the Painted Dog Research Trust to learn about one of the rarest species on the continent in the field.
The naturalist Sir David Attenborough put things into perspective when he said: “The question is, are we happy to suppose that our grandchildren may never be able to see an elephant except in a picture book?”. It’s our decisions now that paint a picture of what our world will look like in years to come.
For more information, go to earthday.org