Q. Can you give me a small description of the projects your organization runs? What is your mission and vision?
Care for the Wild International supports a variety of wildlife and conservation projects in the UK and around the world. Our projects are far reaching and wide ranging – from tiger protection in India, supporting wildlife sanctuaries in Asia, protecting orphaned elephants in Africa, and rescuing wildlife in need in the UK, and many more. We also have a long history of running our own operations in Kenya, currently running anti-poaching teams in the Mara Conservancy and Tsavo East National Parks which comprise patrols which seek to infiltrate poachers, remove snares, rescue and treat trapped and injured animals, destroy illegal charcoal kilns and work with the local communities to stop poaching in their areas. We also have a small voluntary German operation which raises funds for our Kenya work.
As well as projects we also campaign actively – our main campaigns at the moment focus around stopping a scientifically void badger cull aimed at preventing the spread of Bovine TB, and responsible, animal friendly tourism, focused around a brand new and revolutionary new website. Our mission is to rescue, protect and defend wildlife around the world by committing our resources to deliver the greatest good, and it is our vision to live in a world where caring for wildlife is a global priority.
Q. What is your role in the Organization? What is the biggest challenge and asset of this role?
I am the organisation’s CEO, so I head up the team here and globally to help to ensure that we bring in enough income to fund all the projects we support, to ensure that we spend our supporter’s donations wisely, and to ensure we run effectively and efficiently whilst giving the most impact to the wildlife we help. The role is challenging, we battle to fight poaching, for example, in a world where poaching is dramatically increasing, and like all charities we are feeling the pinch during these tough economical times. But, our small but dedicated team strives on to make sure that we do all we can to stop wildlife exploitation.
Q. What are your feelings on eco and sustainable tourism? Is it an important concept if so why?
Eco and sustainable tourism is vital. For us it is the only way to go that works for wildlife, tourism and the local communities. It’s an old adage that you should leave only footprints when you’re away, and we really believe that. Tourism is a difficult paradigm for many countries, especially poor and developing ones. They need the money and the jobs, and can see tourism just as a cash cow and a quick answer to their problems. However, to make tourism really a long term benefit, countries need to not just pump out mass tourism with no future planning, and to not only encourage sustainable tourism, but also to legislate for it too. Talking about it isn’t enough, as when the wildlife goes, the tourists go. When the paradise beaches get so built up that the coral dies and the seas get polluted, the tourists go.
Also, sharing the wealth is important too. Tourism needs to work for the whole community, not just the rich hotel owners, the governments or the large multinationals. If hotels and resorts can offer good employment, community benefits (such as schools, healthcare etc), then the locals will protect and embrace their tourists and the things that attract the tourists – such as the wildlife and the environment. If they are disenfranchised from the benefits, then they will work against and not with the tourism.
Q. What do you feel the role between tourism and conservation is?
Tourism and conservation should be one and the same. Long term, we feel you will struggle to have one without the other. Tourism can be good and it can be bad – in most cases unfortunately, it tends to be bad, with real eco-tourism still being a niche in a very big global marketplace. As mentioned above, if you destroy habitats you destroy long term income opportunities, long term job prospects, long term community benefits. If you get it right then not only should the tourist feel better about their trip and holiday experience, the experience can be shared again and again and again, for many years to come.
Q. I love the animal adoption campaign on your website. Why is this type of investment necessary? Why should people donate?
The animal adoptions are an important income stream for us, and Care for the Wild was one of the first charities to ever adopt this model. We have a range of animal adoptions available such as Meow the Tiger (rescued as a cub from a busy Bangkok petrol station!), Stardance the dolphin, which helps fund vital research and rescue work for dolphins and marine mammals in the UK, and Kihari the orphan elephant, who likely lost his mother to poaching and now requires 24 hour care and attention until he can be moved and prepared to ‘go wild’ where he belongs on the African plains. You can see more here.
The adoption program is necessary as all of the projects we support cost lots of money to run, and the adoption program also helps educate people about the animals and the issues they face. Wildlife protection and rescue is not cheap, and until attitudes, legislation, law enforcement, and socio-economics change around the world, there will always be a need for this kind of support. Quite simply, people should donate as these animals need them and we are a channel to get their donation to have a real impact. There are good hearted and well skilled people around the world who dedicate their time to saving wildlife, just like those at all of our specially selected projects, and without the money to pay for their sanctuaries, research, patrols etc these animals will have no support.
Many people think we get funded from major donors, the government, or even through lottery grants, but we don’t – as a small charity we have to rely on the generosity of our supporters – people just like you or I and every single donation counts, no matter what the amount.
Q. Do you work with any other NGOs or organizations you think should be brought to the attention of our readers?
Yes – we work with a variety of NGOs and other organisations. On our RIGHT-tourism website we’ve worked alongside leading charities like the League Against Cruel Sports, the Brooke, CAPS (the Captive Animal Society), as well as industry experts from a variety of fields, and on the anti-badger cull campaign we’re working with a whole host of charities as part of Team Badger, which includes globally significant charities like the RSPCA, Humane Society International and IFAW. As a small charity we like to work closely when possible with other like-minded organisations to maximise the impact of our supporters’ donations.
Q. Is there any advice or information you think you could provide our readers teaching them to become better tourists/ travellers?
There is a whole host of advice and material for readers on our website which is all easy to use and easy to digest. Readers can search by issue, or even just type in the country of their choice and see what animal and conservation type issues they may come across specifically for that country.
We also have a RIGHT-tourism Top 10 Dos and Don’ts, which they can view here - which is a simple guide to ensuring that they don’t unwittingly encourage or participate in un-sustainable or cruel practices when they travel.
My only advice other than this is simple – if you wouldn’t do it at home, don’t do it when you’re away. Don’t forget your morals when you travel.
Q. Any additional information you think should be included in this article?
Yes – things are changing, and previously where it was difficult for individuals to make a real difference, now it can and does happen. We live in an age of instant communications – YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, e-petitions and many more. On our RIGHT-tourism website we have a section called ‘Your View’, where people can send us links to their photos, videos and blogs when they’ve witnessed something that isn’t good practice, such as a cruel festival, a hotel that pollutes, endangered products for sale, or anything similar. Likewise, when things are working, when animals are being treated with respect for example, people can share this too. We can then highlight these to our readers and then they can make their own choices and vote with their feet and their wallets. Bad practice stops when people stop paying for it or going to it – the world revolves around economics, so we would urge your readers to contact us with their footage if they’ve seen things that they want to change, and together we can help make that change. People power is alive and well – our Team Badger e-petition against the cull gained over 160,000 signatures in just a few weeks, which led to a five hour debate in the Houses of Parliament, ending in MPs resoundingly voting against the cull.Share This: