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

Helsinki Water

Helsinki Water

My idea for the latest Dogwood52 challenge comes after hearing that Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour party in the UK, collects photographs of manhole and drain covers. At first it seemed like an odd hobby, only for the most eccentric, but it actually turns out there is history hidden behind each one.  With this blog and my photography I try to capture something that represents the place in which I am in at that time. For the theme metal I combined the two ideas, what do you think?

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) is an agency of the United Nations with its purpose to contribute to peace and security by promoting science, culture and education.. UNESCO overseas many different projects but the one I want to concentrate on is their involvement in World Heritage Sites.

UNESCO assists in protecting World Heritage Sites, these are sites of outstanding cultural or natural importance. There are just over 1000 listed sites across 195 member states with Italy ranking the highest with 51 sites. These sites fall under the categories cultural, natural and mixed.

Recently the organisation has been criticised as recent events in Syria led to the destruction of ancient sites and there was little they could do to stop it. Its not only these factors that effect World Heritage Sites. Though the site is protected the area surrounding it is often over developed to accommodate the amount of tourists that UNESCO World Heritage Site label brings.

Does the UNESCO label effect your travel decisions? Is visiting a World Heritage Site important to you?

UNESCO Gallery

Stop the Press!

Today I was going to post about Melbourne and specially the Eureka tower until I saw a video that moved me. I have recently been posting about the Australian Aboriginals and their struggles in Australia. I am no where near well educated on the subject but during my research I have become interested in their culture and built a connection with their history. Now Aboriginals are facing new difficulties as settlements are being closed due to funding.

Watch the video posted by Wes Carr below.

Visit Wes Carr’s Facebook page HERE.

 

Nature Tourism

Nature tourism is an increasing segment of the tourism industry which encompasses many activities that centre on the participants engaging with nature. This segment takes place largely in a natural setting with emphasis on understanding and conservation of the natural environment. The places associated with nature tourism has always included forests, lakes, rivers, mountains and the coast, these areas are usually protected as National Parks.

Krka National Park, Croatia

Krka National Park, Croatia

In the U.S.A in the 19th century there was the national park movement where many areas became protected as National Parks or National Monuments, this led to them being heavily visited during the 20th century. Early infrastructure was developed including car parking, trails and visitor centres, this was then adopted by other countries but with national and cultural differences. For example in Scandinavia they have “everyman’s right” which has led to more countryside being available for access whereas in the U.S.A they have strong private property rights.

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 these protected areas as people understand the need for this action.

This has not been the case in Virunga National Park in Congo. Park rangers are armed with guns and willing to give their lives in order to protect the natural environment and the last home of the mountain gorilla on the planet. Virunga is both a National Park and UNESCO heritage site but has been under increasing pressure since oil was found in the park. Large oil companies are able to throw money at a problem until they eventually get their way, if we are not careful we will lose a truly unique place on Earth.

Virunga National Park

In order to increase nature tourism a high quality environment is needed in order to attract visitors, this results in a reduction in negative effects on the areas and a reduced risk of conflict with local communities. With the popularity of nature tourism increasing it will actively contribute to the conservation of natural and cultural heritage. But if the area is affected by lack of management or over-exploitation, like what is happening in Virunga, it will lose its attractiveness to visitors. It is important for nature tourism development to encourage community involvement to be sustainable, this can be done through local and indigenous communities being included in the planning, development and participation.

Given the increased pressures on the environment as well as the changing social, economic and demographic conditions, nature tourism is a segment that needs to be continually under review. If we as tourists are not mindful about our travel these places may not last for future generations.

The Academic Traveller

I have been studying Tourism at University for the last two years in Helsinki, Finland. The subject intrigues me and has opened my eyes to areas of the industry that I wasn’t before aware. Tourism is a large industry, one of the largest in the world, and it continues to grow as more and more of us look to travel.

Traveling has to be something that consumes us. We have to be mindful of local communities and ecosystems we may disrupt in order to achieve our goals. The world is fragile, culture and heritage even more so. Being a tourist raises a lot of ethical questions we may sometimes be blind to.

I would like to use this blog not only a place to share my adventures from around the world but also those I have had during my studies. Hopefully these posts will be able to create discussion and we can approach some of the more intricate details that effect us during our travels.

If you want to continue reading please try the posts below.

Nature Tourism

Uluru: To climb or Not

The History of Australian Aboriginals 

Khmer Rouge

Once Upon a Saga

A Danish man is hoping to visit every country in the world over the next few years. He is already over one year into his journey and at latest count he has visited 65 countries out of the 203 he will hope to visit. There is a twist. He is visiting these countries without flying!

Would you like to take a trip like this? How many countries have you visited in the world?

For more information and the latest updates on this huge endeavour visit www.onceuponasaga.dk