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As the sun rises and the flooded forests of Cambodia’s Stung Seng wildlife sanctuary come alive with the chattering and whooping of endangered monkeys with their elegant silvery-grey fur, fishermen from the Phat Sanday commune make their way towards the lake to set their nets for the day.

Located in the Tonle Sap biosphere reserve, the unique wetlands ecosystem of Stung Seng provides food and shelter for a number of species and acts as an important fish nursery. Surrounding floating village communities are also dependent on the wetland’s lakes and trees for clean water, fish, wood, fruits and nuts for their survival.

Unfortunately, in recent years, illegal fishing, overfishing, hunting and forest exploitation have been threatening the health of this vibrant forest. With more than 90% of the commune population relying on fishing, the catch in the lake has been declining.

To combat this, sustainable tourism – where neither the natural environment nor the socio-cultural fabric of the host communities should be impaired by the arrival of tourists – has been introduced to the commune. By providing an alternative source of income, a responsible tourism plan in Phat Sanday is a means of conserving the environment and enhancing the livelihoods of local people.

“Some villagers, especially the youth, move to the city and neighbouring countries to find jobs because there aren’t many available here,” says Mr Leng Sok, a commune council member of Phat Sanday. “Sustainable tourism can help generate income for people who are providing boat, food and accommodation services to tourists. To attract more tourists, our natural resources will need to be protected and sustainably managed.”

Funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and implemented by Wild Cambodia Organisation, the project that Mr Leng is part of emphasises the importance of using participatory approaches to involve villagers in the development and implementation of a ‘responsible tourism master plan.’ The involvement of villagers in the plans not only allows them to contribute their traditional knowledge on their surrounding environments, but also empowers them to take ownership of environmental conservation and their own livelihood enhancement.

Photo: Consultation meeting with local tourism working group © Wild Cambodia Organisation

“When tourism is fully developed, many tourists will come to visit our community and people in our commune will be able to earn more money. To provide good services, we need to train local people in hospitality, especially in activities such as cooking, operating boats, guiding tours etc. This requires a sustainable funding stream. As agreed in our workshops, we plan to use the profit generated from tourism to support conservation activities and commune development. This includes education, health and infrastructure,” said Mr Khoeung, leader of the Phat Sanday Community Protected Area.

This year’s theme for International Day for Biological Diversity is “Biodiversity and Tourism”.

As reflected in the Cambodian project above, attractive landscapes and rich biodiversity are of great importance to tourism economies. The protected areas of South and Southeast Asia are particularly important for tourism and are drawing an increasingly large number of domestic and international visitors. The total contribution of tourism to the gross domestic product in the Asia-Pacific region was approximately US $2,270 billion in 2016, and approximately 159 million people in the Asia-Pacific region are working in jobs related to the tourism sector.

Tourism also relates to many of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Some focus on reducing damage to biodiversity from tourism, while others focus on pursuing positive contributions of tourism through community engagement and raising awareness for biodiversity, protected areas and habitat restoration.

Recognising the importance of tourism in biodiversity conservation, many programmes and organisations are already working with local communities to ensure that tourism not only benefits the economy but also the environment.

CEPF, for example, has supported a number of sustainable tourism projects in the Indo-Burma region since 2008. Some of the projects train local tour guides in ecotourism while others provide support in the development of policies for sustainable tourism.

Another grant-making mechanism, Mangroves for the Future (MFF), a partnership-based coastal programme co-chaired by IUCN and UNDP, has been supporting over 30 projects that focus on sustainable tourism development, since 2007. In India, the Grande & Bat Island ecosystem project assessed and analysed tourism-related threats to the island’s marine ecosystem. The project also trained 40 tour-boat operators on implementing sustainable practices for dolphin watching.

While tourism benefits local communities – both economically and socially- the natural environment cannot be sacrificed in the process. Tourism must be practised responsibly and sustainably, so as to ensure that the biodiversity and species that are critical for maintaining balance in ecosystems are safeguarded.

As a step in achieving this, local and national governments, tourism industries, businesses and local communities need to work together, as part of an inclusive and participatory process, to design the vision and way forward for a sustainable future.

 

Access the article here.

By the IUCN

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Credit: Shutterstock

 

Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism

 

This theme has been chosen to coincide with the observance of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in its Resolution 70/193 and for which the United Nations World Tourism Organization is providing leadership.

Biodiversity, at the level of species and ecosystems, provides an important foundation for many aspects of tourism. Recognition of the great importance to tourism economies of attractive landscapes and a rich biodiversity underpins the political and economic case for biodiversity conservation. Many issues addressed under the Convention on Biological Diversity directly affect the tourism sector. A well-managed tourist sector can contribute significantly to reducing threats to, and maintain or increase, key wildlife populations and biodiversity values through tourism revenue.

Tourism relates to many of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets. For some Targets (for example 5, 8, 9, 10 and 12) this is primarily about ensuring greater control and management to reduce damage to biodiversity from tourism. For others (1, 11, 15, 18, and 20) this is about pursuing the positive contribution of tourism to biodiversity awareness, protected areas, habitat restoration, community engagement, and resource mobilization. A further dimension is the better integration of biodiversity and sustainability into development policies and business models that include tourism, thereby supporting Aichi Biodiversity Targets 2 and 4.

Celebration of the IDB under this theme therefore provides an opportunity to raise awareness and action towards the important contribution of sustainable tourism both to economic growth and to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Furthermore, the theme also provides a unique opportunity to contribute to ongoing initiatives such as the Sustainable Tourism Programme of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns and to promote the CBD Guidelines on Biodiversity and Tourism Development.

We invite Parties and organizations that have already initiated national plans for activities to celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity to keep the Secretariat informed of such plans and other noteworthy activities organized by NGOs or other organizations so that they may be included in these pages.

Read the notification here.

By the Convention on Biological Diversity

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White rhinos graze on a ranch belonging to John Hume, one of the rhino farmers who sued to overturn South Africa’s ban on the domestic sales of rhino horn. PHOTOGRAPH BY WALDO SWIEGERS, BLOOMBERG/GETTY

 

It will soon be legal to buy and sell rhino horn within South Africa. The country’s constitutional court dismissed an application to appeal from the government to keep a ban on the trade in place, the South African government confirms.

This ends a lengthy legal battle that pitted rhino owners, who farm rhinos like livestock and want to be able to sell their reserves of rhino horn once again, against the government’s Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), which placed a moratorium on the trade in 2009 after a jump in poaching. Lower courts have sided with the rhino farmers, but the ban remained in place as the government’s appeal worked through the courts. Knowing that it may lose, the government began preparing for legalization earlier this year by issuing new draft regulations to govern the trade. They say that anyone with a permit will be able to buy and sell rhino horns and that foreigners will be allowed to export a maximum of two horns for “personal purposes.”

Read more on the legislation of rhino horn here.

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Sustainability in tourism isn’t just about re-using that hotel towel a second day. It’s thinking deeply about how visitors get in and out of a destination while doing the least harm.

— Jason Clampet

With 2017 being the United Nations’ International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, now is as good a time as ever to take stock of the opportunities and challenges faced by tourism providers trying to ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry.

While tourism is important to many local and national economies, overcrowding is changing the perception of the benefits of mass tourism. Spain is a prime example of a country struggling with its popularity.

Barcelona’s relationship with tourism has been shaky for a number of years now. Already in 2014, the documentary “Bye Bye Barcelona” highlighted the negative impact of mass tourism on the city. Locals fear that they will be priced out of the housing market, eventually resulting in Barcelona losing population diversity and character. The local government has stopped issuing licences for new hotels and has banned change-of-use permits required for holiday lets.

And Barcelona is not alone. As of 2017, Santorini is limiting the number of cruise visitors to 8,000 per day. Local activists in Venice have asked government to ban cruise ships stopping in its harbour, as cruise visitors have quintupled in the past 15 years. Cinque Terre on the Italian coast is capping the number of visitors to 1.5 million per year. Popular attractions including Machu Picchu and Mount Everest are capping the number of visitors and require visitors to be accompanied by a recognised guide, and Zion National Park is looking at proposals to limit visitors through a reservation system.

Capping tourists is a drastic measure, and surely not something destinations would like to do. It is often seen as a last resort, and the fact that more and more tourist destinations see no other way to remain sustainable and competitive is telling of the apparent failure of other initiatives.

 

Read more here.

By Wouter Geerts, Euromonitor from Skift

 

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New bird species and giraffe under threat – IUCN Red List

Categories: Americas, Fauna, North, Recommended Reading, Wildlife
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Photo

Photo credits: D. McCoy

The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is now threatened with extinction.

Photo credits: IUCN Photo Library, Alicia Wirz

Spring wild oat (Avena fatua) is among the crop wild relative species assessed for this update.

Photo credits: Stephane

Cancun, Mexico, 8 December 2016 (IUCN) – Over 700 newly recognised bird species have been assessed for the latest update of The IUCN Red List of Threatened SpeciesTM, and 11% of them are threatened with extinction. The update also reveals a devastating decline for the giraffe, driven by habitat loss, civil unrest and illegal hunting. The global giraffe population has plummeted by up to 40% over the last 30 years, and the species has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. – By IUCN. Read more.

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Silly Animals for Hump Day Wednesday

Categories: Fauna, Planet, Recommended Reading, Wildlife
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Hump Day Wednesday is here, the dreaded middle of the work week. To help you get over that hill, we present you with our favourite finalists of this year’s Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards featuring cute and silly animals. Enjoy!

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Silly Animals Edward Kopeschny Midland Ontario Phone: 705-528-1636 Email: edkophoto@yahoo.com Title: Mrs Happy Description: One very content snowy owl. Animal: Snowy Owl Location of shot: Minesing, Ontario, Canada

 

Silly Animals Barb D'Arpino Wasaga Beach Phone: 705 429-4592 Email: barbaralynne@rogers.com Title: No butter or salt? Description: Eastern Chipmunk stuffing her cheeks with corn until they looked ready to pop. Animal: Eastern Chipmunk Location of shot: Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada

 

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Silly Animals George Dian Balan Brussels Belgium Phone: +32484744195 Email: dian.balan@gmail.com Title: Push Me Pull You Description: Two wide rhinos organised back-to-back in defence formation seem to be the rarest creature in Africa, Push Me Pull You. Animal: wide rhino Location of shot: Laikipia, Kenya

 

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Click here to check out the rest of the finalists!

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Building Reef Resilience

Categories: Fauna, Flora, Planet, Recommended Reading, Sea
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Source: Scuba Diver Life

Source: Scuba Diver Life

“Resilience” has become a buzzword when it comes to the future health of coral reefs, but how exactly can you help in the face of climate change?

As a diver, you’ve probably heard that reefs are under intense and unprecedented pressures — you’ve probably seen evidence of this on your own dives. And, you’re probably aware that the sources of these pressures are global and extensive; climate change and ocean acidification. It’s easy to feel helpless when it comes to the strife of our coral reefs. There’s very little we can do to influence this…or is there? Green Fins promotes an ecosystem approach to strengthening reef resilience.

Continue reading on Scuba Diver Life!

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Rides we should not book

Categories: Fauna, Recommended Reading, Wildlife
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A mahout and tourists riding an elephant in Chitwan National Park. Source: TTR Weekly

A mahout and tourists riding an elephant in Chitwan National Park. Source: TTR Weekly

BANGKOK, 9 May 2016: Elephant rides are heading for exit door fast.  That’s the prognosis presented by thousands of tourists who make their voice heard through animal rights’ blogs and social media.

It is also the opinion of a few far-thinking elephant owners. By Don Ross. Read more.

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World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on 2 February, marking the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands in 1971, known as the Ramsar Convention.

World Wetlands Day Besides providing essential services such as water, food and energy, wetlands offer significant opportunities for tourism, which can in turn deliver economic benefits for local communities and the sustainable management of wetlands.

Revival of wetlands, as in the case of Ein Afek Nature Reserve in Israel, is important for not only nature conservation but also eco-tourism, wetland education, and ecological research. Wetlands offer a range of recreational activities include sunbathing, swimming, boating, diving, snorkeling, photography, bird-watching, and simply enjoying the landscape. If not properly managed, however, tourism can also harm wetland, as in the unfortunate case of China’s Qinghai Province where Qinghai Lake became a huge rubbish dump.

The strong connection between wetlands and tourism brought the World Wetlands Day theme for 2012 to be “Wetlands and Tourism.” Ensuring well-managed tourism practices in and around wetlands and educating tourists on the value of wetlands contributes to the health of the world’s wetlands, and the long-term benefits that wetlands provide to people, wildlife, economics, and biodiversity.

Learn more how about how to successfully use wetlands for tourism through the UNWTO’s Destination Wetlands: Supporting Sustainable Tourism; Wetlands International’s publication Factsheet Wetlands and Poverty Reduction Project or the Use of Wetlands for Sustainable Tourism Management in the Boondall Wetlands Reserve, Australia.

2015 PATA Grand Award– Environment
The Success of Self-reliance
Jetwing Yala, Yala, Sri Lanka

Jetwing YalaAkin to a phoenix rising from the ashes – recovering after a decade from the devastating tsunami of 2004 – Jetwing brings a truly ‘at-one-with-nature’ concept to a more refined and elegant form with Jetwing Yala. Set within the immediate outskirts of the Yala National Park, Jetwing Yala boasts a tremendous commitment to sustainability and the environment, bringing a wildlife experience complemented with the finest in luxury and comfort. Designed by renowned architect Murad Ismail, the 90 room property overlooks spectacular sand dunes and the Indian Ocean and is a landmark that changes the face of the deep south of Sri Lanka. Jetwing Yala has been created from ground up to be as sustainable as possible with the intention of conserving energy and resources, reusing and recycling and being a part of the environment whilst causing no harm to nature.

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