'We fundamentally depend on natural systems and resources for our existence and development. Our efforts to defeat poverty and pursue sustainable development will be in vain if environmental degradation and natural resource depletion continue unabated. '
Kofi Annan, In Larger Freedom. Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All, 2005.
I used to get frustrated. Sitting at my old desk on a Friday afternoon, wanting to know what was happening in the world of wildlife, and where a good place would be to go to see some, I would end up browsing through anything up to 20 different websites. So then I was at a loose end and I decided to put something together that means you only have to look at one site.
However this is an important subject, and has just been recognised by UNEP as a key driver of tourism, and as bringing very important economic benefits that will help ensure that the people and places we visit are preserved.
Why wildlife watching is good for the world. (Taken from the UNEP report on 'Wildlife watching and tourism 2006').
'It is a sign of the important place wildlife holds for people, that so many want to watch animals in their natural habitats, and that the popularity of wildlife watching tourism continues to grow.
As well as providing enjoyment for millions of people, wildlife watching tourism is a significant source of income and employment for a growing number of communities, particularly in developing countries, and underlines the value of conservation. It also can help raise awareness of a whole range of pressing environmental issues that face us, for the survival of wildlife in its habitats is at risk from climate change, pollution and land conversion, just as we are.
Tourism is one of the areas where the links between people, the global economy, and the environment are clearly visible. The international tourist sees first hand the environmental, social and economic conditions of other countries and cultures. At its best, tourism can be a powerful way to promote understanding between people and cultures. At its worst, tourism can result in the exploitation of people, social disharmony, and environmental degradation.'
Wildlife watching is becoming a key factor that enables protection of the wildlife and wilderness of the world by making it an economic force for local communities, thus it becomes in everyone’s interest to preserve the environment.
'In East Africa, wildlife watching is one of the attractions for international tourists, and the basis for the majority of their national income from tourism: in 2000, Kenya received 943,000 international arrivals which generated international tourism receipts of USD 304 million. For Tanzania the figures were 459,000 arrivals and tourism receipts of USD $739 million, and for Uganda, 151,000 arrivals and receipts of USD $149 million. In total the region received over one and a half million international arrivals and generated more than USD $1 billion in foreign exchange receipts from tourism, much of it based on wildlife watching.'
Much as I would like to, we will not be able to visit every reserve, park, wilderness moorland and cliff in the UK let alone the rest of the world. So please do send in details on anywhere that you have visited (including photos if possible) and what you saw there, and we will add it to our information.
Please email us.
Powell Ettinger, founding but nopw retired editor of www.wildlifeextra.com