Even though our tours are primarily about exceptional wildlife encounters and the simple pleasures of a fun and relaxing holiday, we also feel it is important to consider how our visits have the potential to have a positive or negative influence on the local people, wildlife, and environment. In the face of rapidly changing wildlife habitats and the pressures on local communities around them, this is more crucial than ever.
The following suggestions have been compiled using various sources of information. Firstly, the Encounter the Wild team have experience of travelling in over 100 countries throughout the world and have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly side of wildlife tourism. Unfortunately, even the best National Parks and Private Reserves for seeing wildlife can fall short on responsible management. Our experience says that by acting responsibly on tour, we can become ambassadors for responsible tourism and help to raise standards.
Secondly, our local experts have an intimate knowledge of the issues affecting the wildlife and communities. They and their staff often live in the communities and understand better than anyone the problems that can arise through bad tourism practices. These issues are often complex and we have therefore taken on board advice directly sourced from a local level. From jungle camps to luxury lodges, this local advice goes along way and can make a huge difference.
Finally, this isn’t about dictating how you experience your holiday. This is simply advice designed to enhance your holiday experience, safeguard wildlife habitats for future generations, and leave you safe in the knowledge that you will have made a positive contribution.
- Listening to your guide is probably the most important thing. Our guides have your welfare at heart and any decisions they make are based on what’s best for you and the wildlife. This may mean offering general advice, such as keeping a safe distance from wild animals, not making too much noise, or not using flash photography. Or it could mean attending safety demonstrations or group meetings before a safari. Your guides have a detailed knowledge of the rules and restrictions that affect your visit, and by following their advice you will get the most from your tour.
- Regardless of where you are on tour, please be mindful of your other guests. We ask that you observe the following:
- No smoking in any vehicles, including open top safari vehicles.
- No loud conversation or shouting when watching wildlife. Animals tend to disappear quickly when this happens! Please observe animals silently and so as to disturb them as little as possible.
- Take care when using cameras and other equipment. We aim to ensure that everyone gets a good view of the wildlife and enough time and space to observe and enjoy them.
- No mobile phones when out on safari. We also ask that when living onboard a boat or small ship, you are mindful of your fellow travellers rights to quiet time.
- Please do not pick up or remove wild flowers or artefacts.
- Do not make noises or gestures to attract an animal’s attention.
- Please do not attempt to touch or feed wild animals, including birds.
- Please stick to paths and roads when travelling in National Parks and Reserves. This is the best way to view wildlife as the animals are less disturbed and the environment is less likely to be damaged.
- Do not take photographs of local people without their permission. This is often a sensitive issue and can easily cause offence. If people ask that you do not take their photo, please respect this.
- Try and donate books, stationary, toys, and equipment to schools as often as you can. These donations are often the lifeblood of community schools. Our Tour Brochures offer tour specific advice on how to do this, but you can also visit www.packforapurpose.org for more general advice.
- Read about the conservation programmes associated with your tour before you depart. Encounter the Wild support worth-while programmes on every tour they operate and learning a little about these can really enhance your appreciation of the destination and its wildlife.
- Try and learn about the local cultures, traditions, and language. In our experience, the more you immerse yourself in a different culture, the more fulfilling your tour will be; and learning about your hosts will only add to your experience. Being aware of cultural sensitivities is also very important and we ask that you read our section on Local Traditions in our Tour Brochures.
- Dispose of litter properly and adopt a ‘leave no trace’ approach to your tour. This is extremely important when visiting wildlife areas as litter (including cigarette butts) can injure, poison, and choke wildlife, and cause damage to habitats. Litter should be recycled whenever possible and some items, such as batteries, should ideally be taken home with you.
- Many of the countries that we visit have limited energy resources and we ask that guests preserve resources whenever possible. Please switch off lights, air-conditioning, and power, when not in use, and limit the use of water as much as you can.
- When purchasing souvenirs, please be aware of products made from endangered animals and plants. Sadly craft markets and roadside sellers often use materials, such as hardwoods, animal bone, and skin. Most of these materials are not responsibly sourced and by refusing to buy these you will avoid a highly unethical purchase as well as potential problems with police and customs officers.
- Make use of the local tourism industry as much as possible, including visiting restaurants, bars, and museums, and by asking for local brand products instead of international brands. By doing so, you support and encourage a healthy and balanced economy around wildlife tourism. If local communities benefit financially from your visit, they are more likely to act as stewards for the surrounding wildlife areas.
- Avoid giving to beggars, including children. This is a very sensitive issue and we know that some people find it very hard not to, but begging can be disastrous for communities. It can encourage parents to pull their children out of school to beg on the street and divide communities, if begging is perceived as being more profitable than full time work. We work with a number of local and international charities to which you can donate money, safe in the knowledge that it will be well used, and make the biggest difference.
If you have any questions or concerns about our Client Code, please call us on +44 (0) 20 8432 6484.
We appreciate your cooperation in helping to achieve our aims for responsible wildlife tourism, whilst enjoying a fantastic holiday.
The Encounter the Wild team