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  • Writer's picturePru Goudie

New global benchmark encourages tourists to become responsible wildlife watchers.

By Pru Goudie

World Animal Protection and World Cetacean Alliance have just launched a new global programme in eight areas across Europe, North and South America, Australia and South Africa, working with a coalition of responsible travel businesses and wildlife charities, which they hope will change the way people travel to see wildlife forever.

Credit: All images provided by Wildlife Heritage Areas

Called ‘Wildlife Heritage Areas the programme will provide outstanding and responsible wildlife tourism experience, having been developed to meet an expanding need from tourists to see wildlife in the wild, as the ethics of wild animals in zoos and aquariums increasingly comes under scrutiny.

Now, travellers will be able to discover destinations where local communities care for and protect the wildlife in their environment, and support them through incredible tourism experiences that are sustainable in the long-term.

Wildlife Heritage Areas project manager Dylan Walker said:
The travel industry currently has no way to identify wildlife destinations that are meeting the highest standards of animal welfare, wildlife conservation, community wellbeing and sustainability, whilst also maintaining high tourism value.
Designating Wildlife Heritage Areas will solve this problem by providing a clear marker for the travel industry and the public.”

The Wildlife Heritage Area programme will connect wildlife experts, responsible travel companies, and local communities as a network collaborating to designate wildlife-friendly and community-based tourism destinations.

In addition, Wildlife Heritage Areas will create new opportunities for visitors to engage with the unique culture, heritage and biodiversity that underpins each local community's wildlife offering. By generating pride and income for the responsible protection of wildlife and habitats, this programme will facilitate climate resilience and generate a win-win for people and place.

A Wildlife Heritage Area is an outstanding wildlife watching destination where local people recognise their natural heritage with a deep sense of pride and play a central role in protecting wild animals and their habitats.

As animal welfare and sustainable tourism in general become more important for the travelling public, Wildlife Heritage Areas will identify places that meet the highest standards of animal welfare, wildlife conservation, community well-being, and sustainability, whilst also maintaining high tourism value.

By coming together to reconnect with, protect and respect nature, Wildlife Heritage Areas will help turn the tide on biodiversity loss and wildlife suffering by demonstrating the power of local communities to help solve the planet’s most urgent issues.

Areas include the Amazon Night Monkey Heritage Area, which covers approximately 250 square miles in Vista Alegre on the Colombian-Peruvian border. It offers low-impact nature activities, such as jungle hikes, wildlife watching tourism and experiential tourism, all guided by knowledgeable locals.

Angela Maldonado, founder of conservation NGO Entropika, said:
These local stewards of the forest are critically important in helping to alleviate outside pressure that the monkeys face from a range of issues including trafficking for biomedical research and deforestation."

The concept was developed following the success of the Whale Heritage Sites programme, which launched in 2015.

How to get involved

The programme is inviting tourism businesses, wildlife NGOs, and other potential partners to register interest for a Network that will help guide the project and accelerate its mission in 2024. In the meantime, the team is also to hear about any potential Wildlife Heritage Areas that might like to start the

application process - it's free and simple to use.

Get started here - APPLICATION FORM


The next Adventure Travel Networking Conference & Marketplace will take place on

27 & 29 February 2024 as a hybrid event.

Register your interest HERE


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