Over 100 Travel & Tourism companies join forces to combat illegal wildlife trade
The UK Government are hosting an Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference on 11 and 12 October 2018. The conference will bring together global leaders to help eradicate illegal wildlife trade and better protect the world’s most iconic species from the threat of extinction.
Read below about three case studies from travel and tourism companies who have put initiatives into place to combat illegal wildlife trade after signing the Buenos Aires Declaration on Travel and Tourism and Illegal Wildlife Trade (April 2018).
Intrepid Travel was one of the first companies to sign the Buenos Aires declaration on Illegal Trade in Wildlife in April.
The adventure tour operator’s charitable arm, The Intrepid Foundation, has committed to supporting five new projects focused on supporting anti-poaching programs which are helping to end the illegal wildlife trade in both Africa and Asia. This includes work with charitable organisation, The Thin Green Line Foundation, which supports wildlife rangers and their families worldwide. Last month the company launched a new expedition trip in Kenya so travellers can see first-hand what Rangers do to protect wildlife, learning about their roles and joining them on anti-poaching patrols.
The company also has an established relationship with WWF and AusAID on a community-based ecotourism project in the Madi Valley of Nepal. Located in the southern ‘buffer zone’ of Chitwan National Park, the aim of the partnership is to work with the local community to help mitigate human-wildlife conflict by generating alternative sources of income for the community through sustainable tourism.
Through Intrepid Travel’s support, community members are now in the process of being trained to become Wildlife Viewing Guides. The training programme includes information on techniques to identify wildlife and behavioural patterns of animals prone to coming into conflict with humans, such as rhinos and elephants. This programme offers communities living on the fringes of Chitwan National Park, who are highly dependent on natural resources, an alternative source of livelihood, and encourages local people to take ownership and conserve the wilderness and wildlife around them. It also offers groups an authentic community engagement experience in rural Nepal.
From September 2018 onwards, the Madi Valley Homestay has been included in Intrepid’s Kathmandu to Delhi Itinerary.
Other new projects supported by The Intrepid Foundation include:
- East Africa Wildlife Conservation Society
- Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society
- Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust
Through industry groups like the World Travel & Tourism Council, Abercrombie & Kent is committed to finding ways to integrate sustainable tourism practices into a triple bottom line of environmental, economic and social responsibility. Eco-tourism plays a critical role in addressing the challenge of climate change by preventing deforestation and offering the local population employment in nature-based tourism.
This type of sustainable tourism requires a public-private partnership between government and forward-thinking business leaders.
Botswana - Due to a still-persistent belief in Asia that powdered rhino horn can be used as a cure-all medicine, rhino populations are under massive threat from poaching. A recent sharp increase in poaching has most significantly affected South Africa where 1,255 rhinos were killed for their horns in 2014 alone. It is estimated as few as 29,000 rhinos survive worldwide.
Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy and Sanctuary Retreats partner with Rhino Conservation Botswana, the Botswana Defence Forces and other partners to translocate more than 70 rhinos, both black and white, from South Africa into the Moremi Reserve in Botswana where they will be safer from poachers. There they are under protection 24/7. This is the largest landscape scale conservation initiative in all of southern Africa.
The Moremi Game Reserve was chosen because it provides suitable habitat, good security, restricted range, and existing monitoring capacity. A&K guests learn about these unique animals and the process of translocating them, then journey into the reserve to view the rhino thriving in their new home when they go on patrol with the Rhino Monitors charged with protecting them. They inspect the enclosures where the rhino acclimatise to their new home before being released -- and may even be able to observe a scheduled release.
Uganda - Endangered Mountain Gorillas can be found only in Africa, in just three countries -- Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. Unfortunately, due to loss of habitat and poaching, there are less than 800 Mountain Gorillas remaining in the world today.
In the late 1980’s, Abercrombie & Kent urged Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to set aside Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Reserve as a national park. Today their guests spend more than $600,000 dollars a year on gorilla tracking permits, which directly benefits the local economy and encourages members of the local community to cooperate with park authorities to prevent poaching. As a result, the population of gorillas has increased from less than 300 when the park was established to more than 400 today.
But they haven’t forgotten the human side of the equation. Their guests have contributed more than $1.18 million to Bwindi Community Hospital, transforming what started as a clinic under a tree into a fully-fledged hospital, serving over 40,000 outpatients annually. There is now an operating theatre, maternity ward, children’s ward, neonatal unit, and a nursing school, sponsored by one of their guests.
Abercrombie & Kent commitment to communities and to the environment is carried out through Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy (AKP), a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our 40+ projects across seven continents are funded by a combination of contributions from the parent office, local A&K offices, guest donations and in-kind contributions from strategic partnerships with other NGOs. A&K covers all administrative expenses so 100% of every guest donation goes directly to the project of their choice. To ensure effective project implementation and oversight, AKP employs full-time community development professionals in eight countries.
Since signing the Declaration in April, The Travel Corporation has worked to increase awareness around the plight of elephants working in the travel and tourism industry.
This past September, The Travel Corporation sent a contingent of influential storytellers to India on a trip to experience and better understand the suffering and abuse elephants undergo in the face of travel and tourism and to expose them to the incredible work being delivered by our partners Wildlife SOS to save these animals and provide them sanctuary.
The 6-day trip included meeting with representatives from World Animal Protection India as well as Wildlife SOS. A visit to the sanctuary and an exploration of the harsh conditions which elephants face carrying tourists to Amer Fort in Rajasthan was also included. As well as exposing each of the influencers’ audiences to Wildlife SOS’s vital #RefuseToRide campaign, The Travel Corporation is producing a video documenting the trip which will be shared with our audiences around the world.
Note to Editors:
World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC)
WTTC is the body representing the Travel & Tourism (T & T) private sector globally. Members consist of CEOs of the world’s travel and tourism companies and industry organisations. WTTC has 25 years of research measuring and quantifying the economic impact of T & T in 185 countries. In 2017, travel & tourism contributed 10.4% of the world’s GDP and 313 million jobs.
The WTTC has called on Travel & Tourism organisations to showcase their achievements by entering the Tourism for Tomorrow Awards 2019. Since the beginning of the awards under WTTC, there have been approximately 2,450 applicants from over 50 countries, 186 finalists, and 62 winners who have demonstrated economic, environmental, and social & cultural benefits from best practices in sustainable tourism. The 2019 finalists will be confirmed in January followed by the winners being announced during next year’s WTTC Global Summit (Seville, Spain 3-4 April 2019).
For more information visit: Tourism For Tomorrow