“Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.” ― Winnie the Pooh (A.A. Milne)
Unless you are traveling independently, on most nature tours or volunteering ventures you will have a guide, handlers or experts at hand who will tell you about the wildlife, what you will expect to see and also what you should know in terms of safety protocols.
It’s important to listen and actively take on board the information they are giving you to make sure that both you and the animals are not put into dangerous situations.
Sometimes we can forget the good advice in the excitement of the moment but they are the experts for a reason. Chances are, if they are experienced, that they will have seen many examples where things have gone wrong. They just don’t want to scare guests so they put regulations in place.
Help others to become responsible wildlife watchers, wildlife guides, and conservation leaders.
Lead by example. Be friendly, respectful and discreet when approaching others. When operating a car or a boat, lead by example and reduce your speed in areas frequented by wildlife and encourage others to do the same.
Ask questions, initiate discussions. But also remember that in some instances, your own instinct should be listened to. If you are in a situation when you feel the group or someone in the group isn’t being compliant or fair to the wildlife then respectfully raise attention to the situation and challenge it. Note that sometimes the guides will allow a situation because they are wrongly prioritizing the tourist and not the animals and their habitat.
If you witness unethical wildlife viewing behavior or notice operators behaving in a way that disturbs the wildlife or other viewers or impacts sensitive habitats, then assess the situation, and intervene if you think it prudent. When interceding, inform the person(s) of the inappropriate action, and attempt, within reason, to have it stopped. If the behavior continues, document it, and notify appropriate individuals or organizations. Violations of the law should be reported to local authorities.