Many eco-holiday enthusiasts put wildlife observation high on their bucket list. Moreover, seeing them in their natural habitat is one of many travelers dreams.
In a previous article, we talked about the ethos of wildlife tourism and what to take in consideration before including activity with animals in your program.
The motto when it comes to responsibly watch animals on your holidays and heading to any activity or sanctuary is to do in-depth research.
We’ve spotted six destinations where ethical wildlife observation is possible in 2019.
Let’s get into the wild.
Meet Orangutans in Borneo
You can observe these apes in Asia in Malaysia and Borneo.
Unfortunately, orangutans are on the endangered species list since a few years. The main threat for this population is deforestation and pet trade.
The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation is leading the conservation of the Bornean orangutan in two sites on the Indonesian part of the island.
In cooperation with local communities, they work to reintroduce Orangutans in their natural habitat by:
- Rescuing orphaned orangutans
- Providing care to them
- Entering them in a rehabilitation phase for several years
- Reintroducing them into the wild
The center also includes welfare and healthcare for those that are too ill or injured to be able to go back in the forest.
Travelers can visit the rain forest islands where the orangutans stay for two years before they join the wild.
Volunteer for Manatee conservation in Belize
We mentioned Belize on our 2019 eco-friendly destinations bucket-list. Belize is the home of the West Indian Manatee.
A species listed as vulnerable and declining due to:
- Human disturbance
- Pollution & climate change
Manatees are protected by law in the area, and snorkeling and boat touring activities are strongly regulated. Travelers willing to observe manatees can join eco-friendly snorkeling tours and hope to see this fascinating animal.
To view manatees with a positive impact, you can also volunteer on a scientific program to observe them and do countings.
Visit an ethical elephant sanctuary in Thailand
As we already mentioned in our easy steps to be a sustainable traveler, ride a bike, not an elephant.
The difficulty in Thailand to visit ethical sanctuaries that genuinely are, is a reality. We’ll insist again on the importance of doing proper research when it comes to visiting places with elephants in this part of the world.
The fact that they are called rehabilitation centers, sanctuaries, or refuges, does not necessarily mean they will not propose travelers to ride them or that the elephants will not be chained.
Remember that if touching or riding is involved, it should be a no-go.
You should also note that the World Animal Protection also emits strong reserves when it comes to tourists washing the elephants.
We’ve spotted a few sanctuaries in Thailand, that are responsible and involved in ethical conservation activities.
- Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary
- Elephant Nature Park: note that the bathing experience is an observation, you will not participate
If ever you are in a sanctuary and witness chaining of elephants, you can report it to the World Animal Protection organization
Visit orphaned animals in Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a famous ecotourism destination which has a very rich biodiversity. Some wild animals can get injured or orphaned due to human activity and poaching.
Among the rescue centers that exist, we spotted SIBU which’s mission is to rescue the injured or orphaned individuals, provide medical care rehabilitation and eventually release them back into the wild.
The center can be visited, but reservations are needed due to the limited number of visitors it can welcome every week.
Volunteering programs also exist either to assist with the animals, the construction or the farming areas.
Watch whales in the Azores
This archipelago located in the Atlantic Ocean is worlds largest whale sanctuary with over 20 different species of cetaceans in its waters.
An ideal destination close to Europe for whale and dolphin observation
Their main program is focused on sperm whales
Discover unique penguins in New Zealand
© Christian Mehlführer - CC BY 2.5 - Wikimedia Commons
Yellow penguins are an endemic species of New Zealand which have encountered degradation of their natural habitat due to coastal deforestation and predators introduced in the region.
Penguin Place is a private conservation effort to help save the world’s most endangered penguin.
This conservation site is funded 100% by the support of their visitors. The funding enables habitat restoration, predator control, a research programme and on-site rehabilitation for sick, starving and wounded penguins.
How about you? Any ethical wildlife observation destinations to share? Tell us in the comments