The Tiger Temple

It has been a while since I have talked about tourism related topics on this blog but after seeing the news from the Tiger Temple in Thailand I couldn’t ignore it. For those who aren’t familiar with the recent news or the Tiger Temple in general I will quickly recap.

The Tiger Temple is a place in Thailand run by Buddhist monks with, supposedly, conservation at its heart. They allow the opportunity for tourists to see tigers at close proximity and even the chance to have a photo with an adult tiger or feed tiger clubs, of course for an extra charge.

There has always been speculation about the true intentions of the Tiger Temple and even about the welfare of the animals. It has been believed that the animals are sedated, as they were so relaxed around people and some even saying that their teeth and claws had been pulled when they were clubs.

Now in recent news their has been a raid on the facility and shockingly 40 frozen tiger clubs had been found in a freezer. What the tiger clubs were doing there is still unclear but the most likely reason is the temple has been breeding tigers and selling them to China for medicinal purposes.

When doing a Google search for the location of the Tiger Temple I was happy to see the message ‘permanently closed’ on my screen.

The Tiger Temple

To me this shows that conservation is far from their priority and the temple has always put making money first. I have travelled in Asia and also Thailand, I have visited Kanchanaburi (the province where the Tiger Temple is located) and knew about the Tiger Temple, but I never visited. Asia is full of these attractions created for the tourist dollar and I had decided to stay away from them. People are fooled to believe that their money or entrance fee is going to conservation or helping the animals in some way but, more often than not, that is far from the truth.

My closing message would be that we think carefully about how the money we give is being spent, especially when visiting less developed countries like in Asia. Of course many of us would jump at the chance to see a tiger close up, I know I would, but we have to ask ourselves at what cost. Do your research and if you are happy that the animals needs are put first, like they are in many zoos, then go ahead.

The Tiger Temple

Taken in Australia Zoo, Queensland

Further Reading:

Tiger temple scandal exposes the shadowy billion-dollar Asian trade – The Guardian

My experience on the Death Railway and Kanchanaburi, Thailand

The Darker Side of Tourism

Reynaldo – Rainforest Hero

Our first step in becoming more sustainable in life as well as when we travel is education. People are becoming more environmentally conscious and consider the consequences of their actions now more than ever. The Environment is continually threaten throughout our daily life and making small changes to the way we live, shop and even travel can have a positive impact on the world.

This video really proves how beautiful the world is and that there are people who will fight to protect that beauty. I hope that the next five minutes inspire you as much as they did me.

It was clear we needed to change our way of life,
to think more about the future.

 

If this video has inspired you then try my other posts on Ecotourism and Nature Tourism.

Ecotourism

In recent years it has become difficult to distinguish ecotourism from nature tourism, sustainable tourism, wildlife tourism, adventure tourism and how it relates to other forms of tourism. In nature tourism the attraction and the enjoyment comes from nature and the natural environment. Ecotourism is a sub-segment of nature based tourism along with adventure tourism and wildlife tourism. What distinguishes ecotourism is the inclusion of an educational aspect or sustainable management.

Ecotourism is a more strict form of nature tourism where education and sustainability are used as components to create an ethical experience for the consumer. Ecotourism can be described as a more sustainable form of nature based tourism that primarily focuses on experiencing and learning about nature. It is managed to be low impact, non-consumptive and locally orientated. It typically takes place in natural areas and should contribute to the conservation and preservation of those areas.

Lapland, Finland

Lapland, Finland

It can be predicted that ecotourism will see continued strong growth as it is seen as self-reinforcing, as people experience something new, exciting or scary they might create an interest to explore more powerful experiences. Ecotourism is generally small scale which helps to reduce the negative environmental and cultural impacts, this also guarantees unique experiences. As activities have little impact on the environment and are largely unproblematic from a cultural perspective a large share of nature tourism fulfills the criteria for ecotourism.  Now, we can notice a growing trend in ecotourism as it is increasingly offered in a wide variety of locations and creates new products strategically marketed to create new markets.

Generally there is a greater awareness of the environment and its issues that include pollution, deforestation and global warming. Governments and environmental organisations are taking these issues seriously at both a national and international level. People’s interest in these issues has changed accordingly and they want to engage in nature or ecotourism and partake in activities that have a benefit to the local environment.

Due to this increased awareness it has become easier to manage protected areas as people understand the need for this action. To promote eco-friendly tourism it is important that there is a development in partnerships between tourism, environmental and community interests. These partnerships need to have a shared understanding in the processes and the benefits in producing eco-friendly tourism.

When you travel is preserving the environment and local surroundings important to you? What experiences have you had as an ecotourist?

Welcome to Australia Zoo

When we travel many of us want to experience the highlights of the city/country we are in and usually these lists will contain zoos, theme parks or aquariums. These places are marketed as a way to educate and conserve but how fair is it on the animals. Places like SeaWorld where you can see dolphins, sea lions and even orcas up close. We are given the impression that these animals are happy in captivity but documentaries such as Blackfish and The Cove suggest otherwise.

There is one place that I have visited that I feel maybe an exception to this, Australia Zoo. Steve Irwin started the zoo in order to educate people about animals, he brought them up close so people could see them. He rehomed animals that were in unsuitable conditions and works to preserve endangered species.

Unfortunately Steve Irwin died and the zoo was left in the hands of others. The core values still remain but as developmental plans are made they may be forgotten and we could see it turn into a more ‘American’ style theme park.

Australia Zoo, Queensland

Australia Zoo, Queensland

Aboriginal Rock Art

The main reason for Kakadu’s World Heritage Status is because of its collection of Aboriginal rock art in the area. The art details the history of the Aboriginal people of Australia and features some key historical moments, including the early contact with European people.

The art is evidence of the close personal relationship that Aboriginal people have with the land and their country. It provides a record of Aboriginal life over thousands of years with the earliest painting dating back 20,000 years! The longest historical record of any group of people in the world.

Look closely at the top of the over hanging rock.

Look closely at the top of the over hanging rock.

Some how there is a painting on the over hang of the rock 10m above the ground. One of the rangers told me about the Aboriginal story of how they grew tall enough to reach the area and paint it there. I found it hard to believe but as I stood underneath I couldn’t come up with any other logical explanation. Below is a closer look.

Aboriginal Rock Art

Now, the rock art is extremely important to the Aboriginal people of Kakadu as it provides a scientific and historical record for the region. It is important that the rock art is preserved and many measured are made to reduce the impact on these historical paintings.

These photographs of Aboriginal rock art are taken from Kakadu National Park.

Aboriginal Rock Art

Read more about the rock art of Kakadu National Park, where you can see it and the steps being taken to conserve it by visiting the Parks Australia website. For more about Aboriginal history and culture click HERE