By Dian Hasan | September 10, 2009
This piece appeared in Tree Hugger, and I found it fascinating, as there are unique ways of enjoying or experiencing animals in the wild (in their natural habitat) that cause no harm. Us humans, we may often be so anxious to interact with animals, by feeding them, or worst yet… befriending them, thinking we could tame them, not understanding that the best thing is really just to leave them alone. Here are the useful tips:
Some do it with photo trips, others on nature Safari. Cool types do it on scientific missions to the Antarctic. Teachers do it with turtles. Not greening their sex lives, but seeing the earth’s rarest critters without further threatening these endangered species. What are the limits? We give you advice and options on how to enjoy the awesome beauty of nature — in some cases without even leaving footprints behind.
1. Mountain Bike Safari
When you think “Safari in Africa,” does the word “mountain bike” come to mind? Thanks to the Cape Epic Untamed African MTB Race, this low-impact, immersion mode of transportation is catching on even in this forbidding terrain. These images captured by ex-skateboarder and mountain biker turned professional photographer, Sven Martin, frame the event’s true nature. South African Sven has also photographed mountain bike expeditions into the Mashatu Game Reserve. Remember: No need to go to Africa; there are endangered species in a national park near you too.
2. Volunteering for Adventure
Conservancy organizations reach out to leaders who can help educate others, solve problems, or simply lend a stiff back and some elbow grease to animal protection projects. If you have the talents these groups need, your exotic and life-changing volunteer experience may have you not only seeing strange sights, but saving suffering species.
3. See Nature Through a Lens
Wild Wonders of Europe offers two options for appreciating threatened species. For most of us, it will suffice to see the fragile ecosystems of Europe through the lens and imagination of the project partners. If these photos awaken a lust for nature in you though, learn the secrets of professional nature photographers at the Wild Wonders of Europe Blog. Take only photos, leave only footprints.
4. Know Before You Go
Learn about the endangered species you might encounter wherever your travel is taking you. But be sure to know before you go, so that you will not further threaten wildlife by inadvertently contributing to the thriving illegal trade in endangered species.
5. Go Where No One Has Gone Before
Tourism may help support local economies in need of an influx of funds for recovery, or to divert disruptive economic forces towards preservation opportunities. But too many people going too far too often contributes to threatening the very natural beauty we traveled far to see. How to reduce your footprint? Walk alone. Follow the inspiration of hearty adventurers like Todd Carmichael or dedicated scientists of the Caitlin Arctic Survey. These 12 warrior adventurers will show you the way.
6. Go to the Zoo
Your local aquarium or zoo is the ultimate place to see endangered species. Ride your bike there for a zero-carbon footprint. Although humans take creatures out of their native environments for our viewing entertainment, the educational mission, scientific understanding and breeding programs seem to justify the practice when conditions are humane.
Source: Tree Hugger