Connecting People with Wildlife
Photo courtesy of Traveller and South Australia Tourism Commission
Many aspects of our modern lifestyle can limit our exposure to and connection with wildlife. By visiting conservation parks, zoos and wildlife in a natural setting, we can reconnect and engage with wildlife that can have widespread benefits.
Emotional, social and psychological benefits such as improvements in self-esteem and mood have been observed through interaction with wildlife (The Wildlife Trusts). A paper published by Bournemouth University explores the how interactions and encounters with wildlife can enhance your state of being. The publication states that;
“…all the senses as the individual moves into a state of ‘ﬂow’ where all thought and action is concentrated on the moment in the task of spotting, watching, identifying, recording and enjoying. There is a momentary loss of self-awareness and an existential consciousness and connectedness with the living world. This stepping out of the pressures of the everyday brings a host of psychological beneﬁts. Just glimpsing wildlife, taking a walk in the countryside or hearing an owl at night can lift the spirit and help put everyday concerns into a different perspective”.
The benefits of connecting with wildlife can also provide new knowledge of nature, animals and their habitats which can contribute to and enhance an understanding, appreciation and respect for wildlife.
Photo courtesy of Down Under Dive and Cruise
The tourism industry plays a big part in creating wildlife experiences that are accessible and enjoyable to everyone. Many wildlife tourism operations have a strong focus on conservation and rehabilitation and a commitment to sustainability. Many wildlife sanctuaries, zoos and other wildlife operators offer opportunities for tourists to get up close and personal with animals and provide fun and engaging educational experiences while promoting sustainability.
Photo courtesy of Moonlit Sanctuary
These experiences can provide a personal and direct experience with plants and animals such as those that involve all the senses—touching, smelling, hearing, seeing, tasting. These hands-on experiences can provide opportunities for parents to expose and educate their children about plants, animals, wildlife and conservation.
The benefits of people connecting with wildlife is evident. Tourism operators are in a unique position to be able to create this opportunity for people to fulfil their desire for connection to nature and wildlife in a controlled and safe environment.