It seems like every day you hear the disheartening news that a new species is endangered and facing extinction. Without knowing exactly how many species do exist, there is no way of saying exactly how many species go extinct every year. According to WWF, current extinction rates are estimated to be between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the estimated natural extinction rate (that is, the extinction rate if humans weren’t around).
There is no doubt that environmental damage is a huge factor that affects wildlife, and humans are the main cause of this, so it is best that you take the proper precautions when travelling to help protect wildlife and limit your impact on them.
We’ve compiled a list of the best things you can do to reduce your impact on wildlife, especially when travelling. Everything we do can have an impact on wildlife, so be sure to always make the eco-friendlier choices whenever possible.
Limit Environmental Damage
There are some obvious things that humans do that damage the habitats of wildlife, for example deforestation is a major issue. Although it may seem that this is something that you can’t help with, this is actually not true.
As far as travelling is concerned, little actions can make a massive difference.
For example, it is slowly coming to the forefront that most sunscreens are damaging to coral reefs. Choosing a reef safe alternative can have a hugely beneficial impact on the environment as it preserves the habitat of many animals.
Have a look at our blog article Is Your Sunscreen Damaging Coral Reefs to learn more.
Visit Sanctuaries Rather Than Zoos
Sometimes it can be difficult to recognise the difference between sanctuaries and zoos, and therefore hard to tell why it can be damaging to visit zoos. There is one essential difference that separates them though, and that is that sanctuaries only take in animals that need help to survive, whereas zoos might take in perfectly healthy animals, for the benefit of the public to admire. In other words, sanctuaries prioritise the animals whereas zoos prioritise the humans who come to visit.
Because of this difference in priorities, animals in zoos are more likely to be mistreated. On the other hand, sanctuaries exist to help animals and by visiting them you are helping to support the animals too. It is especially rewarding to visit a sanctuary on holiday as it gives you the opportunity to see animals native to the country you’re visiting.
Read our article What is the Difference Between a Zoo and a Sanctuary if you would like to find out more.
You can be introduced to a whole host of new foods on holiday which can make for an amazing experience, but it is always worth being aware of the damage that some foods can cause. If you’re not vegan, try to ensure that any animal products you consume are from a sustainable source, for instance, free-range and organic eggs are always preferable.
Finding sustainable fish is also very important as irresponsible practices are a huge contributor to bycatch, where turtles and other marine species are killed or injured while other target species are being caught. By only choosing to eat fish from companies that have practices in place to avoid bycatch, you will help to decrease the demand of companies that don’t practice sustainable fishing.
Read more in our article Ways You Can Help Save the Turtles at Home and On Holiday.
A lot of our waste that can’t be recycled ends up in the ocean, and this can have disastrous consequences for marine wildlife and other animals who get their food from the sea. Plastic is especially prevalent and can be digested by animals who mistake it for their usual prey, as a result, they could choke, or starve, and die.
When travelling, it is great to stay at places that have plastic-free initiatives in place and recycle their waste where possible. Tourism can often be a huge source of waste, but eco-friendly hotels are more likely to prioritise the environment and handle their waste responsibly or take steps to reduce the waste created in the first place.
Shopping on holiday can be great fun as you get to bring back a memento to remind you of your adventure, and it is also beneficial to the local economy if you are buying from local providers. But in some places, you might find attempts to trade products made using endangered species.
Such products can include tortoiseshell, ivory and animal hides (skin), all of which are illegal. Buying these products encourages the poaching of these endangered animals, so it is best to avoid any products you think might have been made by harming an animal.
Get Involved in Volunteering
Volunteering for a wildlife charity can be one of the most rewarding activities you take part in on holiday. When travelling abroad you are likely to reach places that are in crucial need of help, so you would be having a positive impact on the local wildlife.
Volunteering also offers you the opportunity to learn more about endangered species and hopefully meet some majestic creatures you wouldn’t find in your back garden at home. Even activities that don’t directly deal with animals can be beneficial for wildlife, such as beach clean-ups and reforestation projects. Check to see if any of the local charities at your next holiday destination are running projects that the public can get involved with.
Be Kind to Nature
Human activities can have devastating effects on wildlife who cannot defend themselves, so we should always work together to protect them. Using the tips above, you can help keep your negative impact to a minimum and even do some positive things for wildlife whilst exploring the world.
Kiwano can help you towards the first step of becoming a green traveller by providing a list of approved green accommodations for you to stay at and give you further tips on how to stay green as a traveller.