Encountering animals in their natural habitat is an incredible and unforgettable experience, but a responsible and worthwhile wildlife tour must be about more than the photo ops. How can you ensure that the experience you’re paying for is a responsible choice for you, the animals, and the environment? Here are a few tips on what a responsible company looks like, and what to look for when booking a tour.
Responsible companies minimize their impact on wildlife and the environment as much as possible.
1. Respect Personal Space
There may or may not be laws about how close you can get to a wild animal, depending on where you’re travelling. Regardless, a responsible company will know to keep a respectful distance from the animals, and give you a detailed explanation why. As a member of the Pacific Whale Watch Association, Prince of Whales has long followed this standard before it became law. Read about the guidelines here.
Guest education is extremely important on a wildlife tour. It adds value and enjoyment to the trip by giving passengers the information they need to spread conservation awareness.
2. Promote Conservation and Education
Guest education is extremely important. A responsible tour guide will discuss the ecological challenges and conservation efforts relating to the wildlife you encounter. Not only does it add enjoyment and value to the trip, but it gives customers the information they need to spread conservation awareness after they leave. So a passionate, educated guide is a good sign that you have picked a respectable organization to tour with.
3. No Feeding the Animals
In some places baiting is used to attract the animals, however responsible tourism never includes feeding or baiting wildlife. This is common among some shark cage diving tours. Sharks have an incredible sense of smell, so by throwing a bucket of blood and meat in the water it increases the chances of an encounter. However, this activity negatively impacts the sharks by changing their behaviour and creating an association of humans as a food source. Responsible companies minimize their impact on wildlife and the environment as much as possible. Besides, once we show you how big an orca’s tooth is, you will not want it associating you with dinner!
An organization worth spending money on is one that is trying to improve the lives of the animals they work with.
4. Wild Animals are NOT Trained
When experiencing a wild animal encounter, remember the animals are just that: wild. These animals are not trained to jump through hoops or give hugs. Wild tigers will likely not pose for your selfie stick, a wild elephant will not let you ride it, and wild whales will not do tricks for fish. Nothing compares to the majesty of animal living as nature intended. Come experience it for yourself!
5. Read the Reviews
All reputable organizations will be rated online. Read as many online ratings as you can to get a feel for what the company offers, and the experience other guests have had on their tours.
At Prince of Whales, we have a mandatory $5 conservation fee built into every ticket. This means every one of our passengers is donating to protecting whales and Pacific salmon.
6. Give Back to the Animals
An organization worth spending money on is one that is trying to improve the lives of the animals they work with. Whether it’s by donation or research, they will be involved in conservation. At Prince of Whales, we have a mandatory $5 conservation fee built into every whale watching ticket. This means every one of our passengers is donating to protecting whales and Pacific salmon.
We hope you’ll join us on a tour soon!
Click here if you would like to learn more about how Prince of Whales takes part in marine conservation.
Check out these resources to learn more about responsible wildlife tourism: