“Today more than ever, it is one of our duties to keep informed; the better informed we are, the better our basis for predicting consequences.” – Arne Næss
In the last decade wildlife tourism, conservation volunteering and citizen science projects all over the world exploded in numbers. Potentially it was a huge market to take over and as expected it did. Search over the web for wildlife tours, or volunteer organizations and you’ll quickly get overwhelmed. Every one of them tries to get your attention.
While quite a few of these venues are truly remarkable, this expected explosion of opportunities and adventures came at a price: it muddled the good and the not so good venues. Not all wildlife adventures are animal cruelty free; Not all citizen projects data collection protocols amount to relevant conservation science. As well as not all advertised volunteering projects are relevant and responsible. Regrettably many do not have the net positive on the environment or the species that they say they help; And too few tell you where the money really goes. It is heartbreaking to read and listen to the testimony of young volunteers who discovered weeks, years later that they were fooled, realizing that the fate of an animal they cared for was different than what they were led to believe [SS15].
Then how do you evaluate a venue, or volunteering project and the organization that manages it? Here is a framework to help you…
The EwA Complete Guide to Choosing Nature & Nature Venues† is a comprehensive and easy guide to facilitate your research of:
➢ Wildlife/Nature tours, parks, sanctuaries.
It gives you tools for getting a sense of the ethics and relevance of the venue, as well as it helps you understand your motivation, define your goal(s) and match your needs.
You either know where you want to go already, or you are looking for opportunities to see or help with a specific (or set of) species possibly in a specific area. At this point all that is important is to make sure that you start your adventure with a good state of mind. No matter where you will end up, the key attitude that needs to surface is one rooted in respect, empathy and compassion for the habitats and wildlife that you are about to discover.
When it comes to conservation projects or wildlife care institutions, then exactly what these projects and organization do achieve is the most important measure of their worth (and ethics). But for many organizations there is an absence of details regarding the quantifiable outcomes of their institutions and projects. Then knowing where to Look is key…
How do you evaluate a volunteering project and the organization that manages it? First you ask questions…
There are 2 sets of questions: those questions that are general enough to apply to all, and the more specific/targeted questions, which depend on the type of organization itself and the species they care about specifically, or the type of work they do.
You’ve reached the point where you have the info, and you are in the process of analyzing the results of and the nature of the interactions. Then how do you decide…
The references mentioned in this page are listed in the Extended Bibliography.