Spinner dolphins in Hawaii

Responsible wildlife tourism promoted by new global initiative


World Animal Protection and World Cetacean Alliance have launched a new global initiative with the aim to change the way people travel to see wildlife.

The initiative called 'Wildlife Heritage Areas' is being introduced in collaboration with responsible travel companies and wildlife charities. The collective vision is to reshape the way people experience wildlife during their travels.

Designed to offer responsible wildlife encounters, the programme was developed in response to the growing demand from tourists who seek authentic wildlife experiences as ethical concerns regarding the treatment of wild animals in zoos and parks are on the increase.

Current Wildlife Heritage Areas

  • Whitsundays Whale Heritage Area (candidate) Australia
  • Amazon Night Monkey Heritage Area (candidate), Peru/Colombia
  • Amazon Uakari Heritage Area (candidate), Brazil
  • Apennines Marsican Bear Heritage Area (candidate), Italy
  • Santa Barbara Channel Whale Heritage Area (new designation), USA
  • Madeira Whale Heritage Area (new designation), Portugal
  • Plettenberg Bay Whale Heritage Area (designated), South Africa
  • Algoa Bay Whale Heritage Area (designated), South Africa

In the Wildlife Heritage Areas programme, designations carry specific meanings. "Candidate" indicates that the applicant has progressed to the second level of the three-tier designation process. "Designated" refers to a successful completion of all three designation levels. And "New Designation" means the recent achievement of the third level, designating a fresh addition to the Wildlife Heritage Areas network.

Whitsundays Whale Heritage Site

Dylan Walker, Wildlife Heritage Areas, said:

We believe Wildlife Heritage Areas will benefit both the local community and wildlife in responsible wildlife watching destinations. By working in partnership with locals, charitable and responsible tourism experts, we can showcase how culture, responsible tourism, and ideas for coexistence can create a better future for places, nature, and people.

The travel industry currently has no means of identifying destinations meeting high standards of responsible wildlife watching. The Wildlife Heritage Area programme changes this.

Nick Stewart, Wildlife Campaign Director - World Animal Protection, said:

We’re delighted to have co-founded Wildlife Heritage Areas as a solution to exploitative wildlife tourism. We invite travel companies around the world to drop the elephant rides, ditch the dolphin shows and any of the other demeaning wildlife entertainment experiences out there and instead, get behind truly responsible wildlife tourism that meets the needs of local communities, visitors and of course wild animal welfare.”

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. This will help to generate pride and income for the responsible protection of wildlife and habitats.

Harry Eckman, CEO, World Cetacean Alliance, said:

Wildlife Heritage Areas are an exciting and perfect evolution of the WCA's successful Whale Heritage Area program. Wildlife Heritage Areas will provide the communities with a unique opportunity to showcase and celebrate their heritage and connection to amazing species and environments, and will provide tourists with an incredible opportunity to experience wildlife in the most inspiring ways.

Now, travellers have the opportunity to explore destinations where local communities play a pivotal role in preserving and nurturing the wildlife around them. They can actively support these communities while enjoying sustainable and immersive tourism experiences for the long term.

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