Eco-tourism can also contribute to job creation and inspire individuals to become advocates for protecting wildlife
Lately, viral videos have highlighted the harmful encounters between tourists and wildlife in their natural habitats. While many people visit national parks to experience safaris and witness the wildlife, some tourists may overstep boundaries and jeopardize both their own safety and the animals they encounter.
The media must also exercise caution in the language they use to depict such occurrences. While it may be tempting to employ attention-grabbing keywords like “Furious tiger attacks tourist vehicle,” the actual story could be vastly different.
Typically, wild animals tend to avoid human contact. It is important for us, as rational beings, to acknowledge that our wildlife is facing immense pressure due to a significant decline in their habitats, the constant threat of human or predator attacks, and limited movement caused by a lack of corridors.
In such situations, it is understandable that animals may show signs of frustration, particularly when tourists disrupt their daily routines. Life is already a constant struggle for these creatures in their natural habitats, with limited space, dwindling food sources, and the constant threat of attacks from humans or predators. It should not be surprising that they would feel uncomfortable when humans intrude into their homes and disrupt their lives. In such cases, who is the real victim?
A fundamental question: Who bears the greater responsibility for safety, humans or wild animals?
Typically, human-animal conflicts in wildlife areas arise from a lack of understanding about animal behavior. Tempted by the desire for a better view or photo, tourists may approach wild animals too closely in their habitats. However, every animal has its own personal space, which expands or contracts depending on the proximity of offspring, mates, or food sources. Unfortunately, most people approach animals without considering this concept of safe space.
It is important to recognize that wildlife habitats are the homes of wild animals, whether it’s a tiger or a turtle. As humans, we are visitors to their territory, and we must understand that these living creatures cannot be treated as inanimate objects for the sake of selfies or social media fame. It is a privilege to observe them in their natural habitat. Being a respectful and considerate visitor in their domain is the best approach.
People should treat visiting wildlife habitats in the same manner as visiting a foreign country and act accordingly. They should enjoy their time while also being alert, and understand that nature moves at its own pace. The excitement to view charismatic species like tigers, rhinos, and elephants should not make one miss out on experiencing the beauty and activities of other species in the area. Wildlife habitats are home to a wide variety of flora and fauna, and rushing around can cause distress for both the visitors and the animals. Patience and silence are key to fully appreciating the wonders of nature.
It is important to avoid putting pressure on guides and drivers to seek out thrilling moments during wildlife tours. Educating visitors about the value of wildlife and their habitats is crucial before embarking on such journeys. Eco-tourism can not only contribute to conservation efforts but also provide employment opportunities and inspire people to protect wildlife. It is essential for people to understand that wild animals are not there for entertainment. Unfortunately, there is a widespread misconception that they are, which leads to inappropriate behavior when visiting wildlife habitats.
Wildlife may perceive shouting or making loud noises to attract their attention as an act of intimidation. Therefore, it is natural for them to react impulsively to such actions.
Enjoying wildlife habitats without disturbing the animals is possible if we respect two key principles: Peace and Space. Recent incidents between tourists and wild animals could have been avoided if visitors were mindful of these principles. Giving animals space and peace is a small but essential step in preserving their natural habitats and avoiding dangerous encounters. It’s a small ask, but it can make a significant difference in ensuring the safety of both humans and animals.