If your children are bursting with excitement about your upcoming trip to the Pilanesberg National Park, then know that in addition to having the time of their lives, they can also do their share to help save threatened species.
At the Park, they can see the Big Five animals as well as over 7,000 species – some of which are endangered – up close. A recent study published in the journal PLOS ONE found that ecotourism actually has a positive effect on wildlife. The study focused on specific animals from Africa, Spain, Costa Rica, and Brazil, finding that all these species benefited from tourist visits. To discover the ways in which tourism can help, read on!
Ecotourism Brings Aid to Animals
When families like yours visit natural sites or go on safaris, there are conservation gains, because more infrastructure is established. The latter includes more private conservation reserves, habitat restoration programs, tighter anti-poaching enforcement, captive breeding, the removal of species-specific predators, and additional food provision for animals in need. The key to getting ecotourism right lies in striking the right balance between the desires of the tourists and the needs of the animals. Ecotourism that does not interfere with habitats or stress out animals can not only bring more funding into needed areas but also provide individuals with an emotion-packed, child-friendly international experience they can share with friends and family back home, as well as on social media.
Experiencing the Majesty of the Big Five in the Flesh
It is one thing for children to read about threatened species like the black rhino (currently considered critically endangered) and quite another to see these magnificent animals in person. Doing so can bring home the beauty and the challenges faced by this and other species in a very real and impactful manner. Children can take pictures and share these on social media, sharing facts about rhinos and other animals they see on their visit to Pilanesberg with classmates and friends. Social media is indeed an ideal avenue through which to share a couple of important facts about the animals and to encourage friends and loved ones to join the fight to save each and every remaining and future animal.
Encouraging Your Kids to Make a Difference
In order to encourage your kids in the plight of the Big Five animals, start before you leave! Visit the World Wildlife Fund website and ask them to write a few facts about the animals they will be seeing at the Pilanesberg National Park. encourage them to focus not only on facts about endangerment, but also on incredible facts about the animals – for instance, the fact that rhinos have poor vision and sometimes attack rocks by accident, or the fact that the darker a lion’s mane is, the older he is. Doing research will increase your child’s interest in the animals, but also make them more sensitive to the individual plights faced by each species.
Studies have shown that, when undertaken responsibly, ecotourism has a wonderful effect on native species. From encouraging protection programs to simply raising awareness about the animals, tourism is a powerful way to bring the importance of these animal species to people all over the world. If you will be travelling with kids, empower them by letting them know that something as simple as sharing the information they gather can help save the Big Five. Change arises through actions both great and small.
Words by Karoline Gore
Get the latest accommodation specials from around South Africa here .