“To protect our wildlife, make travel matter”, or so says filmmaker, explorer and conservationist Celine Cousteau.
As an ambassador for the TreadRight Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that Luxury Gold is a founding member of, Celine supports their mission to fight wildlife crime and improve the treatment of wildlife by the travel and tourism sector.
TreadRight caught up with Celine to discuss a campaign it is supporting called Protecting our Wildlife and how you can get involved.
Tourism and wildlife
Flourishing wildlife populations are crucial to healthy ecosystems and central to many unforgettable travel experiences. Destinations across the planet are often defined by their iconic animals and many local populations are dependent on a robust ecosystem to make a living. However, wildlife crimes like poaching and animal exploitation threaten to harm these innocent creatures and even wipe entire species off the face of the Earth.
Poorly managed tourism can also negatively impact wildlife, with habitat loss, pollution and poaching to feed the illegal wildlife trade, the most immediate threat to wild animals today.
But well-managed tourism can make a monumental difference, bringing protection to species and significant economic and employment opportunity.
“As holiday-makers moving around the world, we need to ensure that the wildlife experiences we choose to be a part of are ethical and respectful”, says Celine.
Animals from the big cat family, elephants and rhinos are all impacted by poachers, a loss of habitat and the entertainment industry. In India, TreadRight helps local organization, Wildlife SOS, to address the problem of injured and sick elephants forced to work. Wildlife SOS currently offers medical services to elephants and train their handlers on humane treatment.
In Africa the group supports the Wilderness Foundation Africa, enabling it to purchase a Bat Hawk aircraft that is used for anti-poaching operations in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. The aircraft allows protection teams to fly over game reserves and not only monitor the species, but also to apprehend poachers.
TreadRight has also worked with WildAid’s Conversation Through Communication campaign, which focuses on reducing the demand for endangered species through engaging and educational messaging. It follows the notion “when the buying stops, the killing can too.”
How can you help
It’s not just companies that can help, you can too. While there are many positive examples of how the tourism sector has worked hand-in-hand with wildlife organizations, the clear reality is that individual tourists too have a responsibility to make well-informed decisions when they travel.
As holiday-makers moving around the world, we need to ensure that the wildlife experiences we choose to be a part of are ethical and respectful.
“Interacting with wild animals is an experience you’ll never forget, but you have to ask yourself, at what cost”, says Celine.