Eco Travel

Which Comes First: The Needs of Endangered Animals or the People Who Live with Them?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | April 14th, 2014 | No Comments
topic: Green Living | tags: China, conservation, Eco Travel, Endangered Species Act, endangered speices, environment, gray wolves, human treatment, International Crane Foundation, nature, species extinction, travel, Uganda, wildlife, wildlife poaching, Yellowstone National Park

Mountain gorilla

Wildlife conservation campaigns often focus on the needs of endangered species, asking you to donate money in order to save their habitats, fight poaching of them, stop illegal trade in them or build refuges for them.

But at a recent seminar at the Royal Anthropological Institute in London, Professor Catherine Hill of the city’s Oxford Brookes University suggested that such campaigns may be doomed to fail unless an added, important issue is addressed: the attitudes and feelings of the people who live in the threatened species’ ranges.

According to the results of a recent study conducted by Dr. Hill, residents of communities in Uganda felt that they were being treated as though their lives were worth less than those of the animals that surrounded them.

Can conservation efforts, then, no matter how well intended, ever succeed if the local populace feels that their needs come second?

When You’d Rather Leave Home for the Holidays: 5 Nurturing Escapes

Wendy Worrall Redal by Wendy Worrall Redal | December 10th, 2013 | 1 Comment
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: African safari, Arkansas, Arlington Hotel, beach, Belize, Cambodia, Canada, Cannon Beach, Caribbean. Maho Bay Camp, Cascade Canyon, christmas, colorado, Devil’s Thumb Ranch, Eco Travel, family gathering, Freestone Inn, Hanalei Colony Resort, Hanukkah, hawaii, holiday travel, hot springs resort, Kanantik Reef Resort, Kauai, Maine, Mazama, Methow Valley, New Mexico, new year's, North Cascades National Park, ocean, Ojo Caliente, Oregon, Pagosa Springs, relatives, santa fe, skiing, snow, spa, St. John, St. Thomas, Stephanie Inn, Stowe, The Sound of Music, The Springs Resort & Spa, Trapp Family Lodge, Vancouver Island, Vermont, Virgin Islands, volunteer vacation, voluntourism, Washington, Wickaninnish Inn, winter vacation

Christmas at the beach

“Oh there’s no place like home for the holidays…”

I can hear Perry Como crooning those familiar words now, evoking images of that Norman Rockwell family gathered round the holiday table, turkey steaming, silver gleaming, family smiling … The idea of home for many of us evokes thoughts of comfort, welcome, love and belonging. Or it should, in an ideal world. But the reality of going home, especially during the holiday season, may be very different.

Expectations often don’t match the inevitable reality: while you may be yearning for ‘peace on earth, good will toward men,’ the fact is, those relatives you don’t get along with the rest of the year are unlikely to make a miraculous change for a day or two. Maybe your children have fledged the nest and won’t be home this year. If they’ve married, they may be spending the holidays at someone else’s home. Perhaps this is the first holiday you’re facing after the death of a loved one. The thought of going through the motions in the midst of grief holds little appeal.

Whatever the circumstance, there are occasions when you may not feel like singing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” with Bing Crosby. Spending part of the season far from stressful settings may be just the gift to give yourself … Or, you may wish to pack up the family just this once and go some place more restful, without all the hassle and hoopla — at least not any that you have to host and clean up after!

If you’re feeling impulsive, last-minute deals at the holiday season are often available to fill cancellations or leftover space — it’s worth a few Google inquiries, if you’re in the mood to mosey. So, whether it’s this year or another, here are five holiday travel ideas to restore body, soul or both.

Should Animals on the Brink of Extinction Be Used to Promote Tourism?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | November 25th, 2013 | 9 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: African elephants, animals, Antarctica, at-risk species, Belize, Canada, Churchill, climate change, Eco Travel, ecotourism, Egypt, endangered-species, environment, extinction, extinction tourism, Galápagos Islands, glaciers, global-warming, habitat destruction, Madagascar, Manitoba, natural-habitat-adventures, nature, poaching, polar-bears, rainforest, Tanzania, tourism, tourists, travel, travelers, UNESCO, wildlife, wolves, Yellowstone National Park

Greenland big ice

I have to admit it: last year, my traveling to Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, to see polar bears in the wild was motivated not only by a 10-year anniversary but by a fear that soon the animals could be gone. I go to see glaciers because I’m afraid we’re losing them. And this coming January, I’m returning to Yellowstone National Park to try to photograph our nation’s wolves before they almost completely disappear in the Lower 48 — again.

You could call me an “extinction tourist.”

I’m far from unique. In fact, today people are traveling in ever-greater numbers to see what they think could quickly vanish from the Earth. While just a few years ago travelers might have endeavored to tick off all seven continents or Africa’s Big Five wildlife species, today there’s a certain “cred” given to those who see the landscapes, animals and plants that are just managing to hang on. And tour providers are tapping into that desire with their marketing messages. “See [fill in your favorite endangered animals] before they’re gone!”

But should tourism companies use threatened species as marketing tools? Given our ability to tune out ads, does that minimize the dire circumstances that these animals and environments are now in and dilute the attention that conservation messages might have been able to muster?

Eating Whale Blubber in Greenland: Politely Partake or Politically Pass Up?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | October 25th, 2013 | 5 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: adventure, alaska, diet, eating locally, Eco Travel, environment, extinction, food, Green Living, Greenland, healthy-eating, International Whaling Commission, Inuit, natural-habitat-adventures, nature, nutrition, Siberia, subsistence hunting, threatened species, travel, whales, whaling, wildlife

Greenland

Throughout human history, the sharing and exchange of local food between people of different cultures has cemented social bonds and sealed agreements. Feasts often brought people from far-off places and varying ways of life together.

Today, whether you’re in a friend’s home or visiting a foreign land, partaking of your host’s served meal is considered polite — or, at least, that’s what I have been taught. So, when I recently traveled to Greenland and visited an Inuit community, I happily agreed to taste the traditional foods offered, including raw whale blubber, dried cod and simmered seal stew.

Wanting to share my adventure with friends, I posted a photo of myself eating the uncooked blubber on a social media site. To my surprise, I was met with strong disapproval by an acquaintance who works at an environmental organization.

When traveling, should you indulge in the traditional foods offered, even though eating them may not be “politically correct” in your own country?

7 “Yoga and More” Retreats to Nurture Body & Spirit

Wendy Worrall Redal by Wendy Worrall Redal | October 21st, 2013 | 7 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Fitness, Green Living, Yoga | tags: Apostle Islands, backpacking, Banff, Big Sky Yoga Retreats, Canada, Canyon Lands, Cascade Mountains, Cowgirl Yoga, cycling, Eco Travel, EcoYoga Adventures, Green Living, Haramara Retreat, hiking, horseback riding, italy, Kaf Adventures, kayaking, Lake Superior, Laos, Lumeria, Madeline Island Yoga Retreats, Maui, meditation, mexico, Montana, Mount Rainier, outdoor activities, Puerto Vallarta, Punta de Mita, Sayulita, SoulFit Adventures, Southeast Asia, stand-up paddleboarding, SUP, surfing, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Yellowstone, yoga classes, yoga retreats

yoga retreats stand-up paddleboarding

If you’ve avoided yoga retreats as a vacation option because you’re worried you’ll spend all your time contorted in meditative silence, it’s time to take another look. Not only do many yoga retreats blend spa treatments and body work with asanas, but a whole new trend combines contemplative practice with activities such as horseback riding, mountain biking, stand-up paddle boarding and other outdoor pursuits.

Is It Time to Grant Nonhuman Animals “Human Rights”?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | August 23rd, 2013 | 5 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: animal ethics, animal intelligence, animal rights, badgers, cetaceans, coyotes, crows, dolphins, Eco Travel, elephants, environment, nature, nonhuman intelligence, Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, prairie dogs, primates, travel, whales, Wild Dolphin Project, wildlife

Humpback whale breach

Crows in American cities drop tough nuts onto heavily trafficked streets and then wait for cars to crush them open so that they can get the food inside. Prairie dogs use a sophisticated, complex language; and coyotes and badgers work together to catch prey. It seems as though every day we learn more and more about the high intelligence of nonhuman animals.

Of course, when it comes to mental agility, most of us would list primates, elephants and cetaceans (such as dolphins and whales) at the top of the list. If we are finally starting to recognize the intellect of nonhuman animals, is it time that we extend to them some of the rights that we humans enjoy?

Are Some Anti-Poaching Solutions Too Extreme?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | July 3rd, 2013 | 3 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: anti-poaching, Eco Travel, elephant tusk, elephants, environment, ivory, Kruger National Park, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, nature, poaching, Rhino & Lion Nature Reserve, rhino horn, rhinoceros, Sabi Sand Reserve, South Africa, travel, wildlife, wildlife poaching

elephant poaching

Despite efforts such as anti-poaching patrols, increased arrests, relocation and unmanned security drones, it seems we’re losing the battle against wildlife poachers. Already in the first six months of 2013, for example, in South Africa alone, more than 200 rhinos have died at the hands of poachers.

Rhino horns are in demand because the desire for traditional “medicines” in Asia is growing. Products that contain rhino horn are touted as successful cancer treatments, and rhino horn is being marketed even in hospitals to the families of critically ill patients. It’s also being pitched as a trendy hangover remedy. In Vietnam, the country that has recently emerged as the single largest market for rhino horn, the item is considered a very high-value gift. That’s why some innovative wildlife conservationists have come up with a plan to make the horns of living rhinoceroses toxic.

But should we alter the makeup and appearance of wildlife, even if it is in an effort to save animals from poaching and extinction? 

Bringing Back Departed Species: Is De-Extinction a Good Idea?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | April 19th, 2013 | 1 Comment
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: Arabian Oryx Sanctuary, burcado, Chinese river dolphins, climate change, clone, cloning, de-extinction, dinosaurs, DNA, Eco Travel, environment, ethics, extinct, extinction, frogs, gastric brooding frog, genetics, habitat, habitat destruction, harm to wildlife, Jurassic Park, loss of habitat, natural habitats, nature, oryx, passsenger pigeon, poaching, Pyrenean ibex, reintroduction of wildlife, science, species extinction, Tasmanian tiger, technology, wildlife poaching, woolly mammoth

Frog on a leaf

The image of the woolly mammoth, saber-toothed cat and dodo bird stepping out of a beaker on the cover of National Geographic’s April issue says it all. Science has found a way to bring back some long-extinct species — or at least, facsimiles of them.

In truth, the goat-like bucardo, or Pyrenean ibex, is the only extinct animal scientists have actually revived. In 2003, biologists managed to clone an offspring from frozen skin cells from the last survivor, which died in 2000. The clone, however, lived for only a few minutes after its birth. Since then, advances in cloning technology have made it possible to bring back any species if there is a remnant of DNA.

But with so many habitat pressures on the wild species that are already here and with so many on the brink of extinction, is bringing back those we’ve already lost a good idea?

“Natural Capital”: Will Putting a Price on Nature Help Protect It?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | March 19th, 2013 | 7 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: africa, American Forests, Belize, conservation, conserve, Costa Rica, Eco Travel, ecotourism, environment, environmental messages, green settings, green spaces, Guatemala, health, healthy, lions, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, natural capital, Natural Capital Project, nature, preservation, preserve, Tanzania, tourism, travel, U.S.

Oak tree

The benefits of green spaces and natural settings are becoming more apparent all the time: reduced stress, depression and feelings of aggressiveness; an increase in overall happiness; faster post-operative recovery; a decline in ADHD symptoms in children — all of these outcomes have been verified when people spend time in nature. The outdoors make us happier, cause us to be kinder and can even give us bigger brains.

While you could say these kinds of benefits are priceless, there’s a new trend afoot. By assigning a monetary value to natural elements in a healthy environment, it is hoped that governments, businesses and others in positions of power will come to see that protecting nature makes good financial sense.

This concept of pricing ecosystem services and natural features — and allowing them to be bought and sold — is gaining wide acceptance among conservationists. But could this approach end up obscuring the unquantifiable, soul-restoring advantages of natural places and put them at even greater risk?

Artificial Reefs: Ocean Junk or Help for an Endangered Ecosystem?

Candice Gaukel Andrews by Candice Gaukel Andrews | February 8th, 2013 | 8 Comments
topic: Eco Travel, Green Living | tags: climate change, coral reefs, Eco Travel, environment, environmental awareness, environmental impact, environmental toxins, Florida, green, Green Living, Gulf of Mexico, health, marine creatures, marine environment, marine habitat, nature, New York, ocean, ocean health, PCBs, reefs, save the environment, travel, World Wildlife Fund

Sea turtle

Coral reefs around the world are in trouble. According to the World Wildlife Fund, about one-quarter of coral reefs are considered damaged beyond repair, with another two-thirds under serious threat. Some suffer from heavy fishing pressures, while others are succumbing to pollution or careless tourism. Climate change, with its attendant rising sea temperatures, is exacerbating the problem, speeding coral deaths.

More than half a billion people live near corals, relying on them for food, shelter from storm surges and the income that tourism brings. With natural reefs diminishing, artificial reefs are increasingly gaining favor. These structures usually take the form of sunken ships, decrepit oil platforms or other human trash.

But is depositing more human refuse in the oceans in order to create artificial reefs healthy for the environment — and for us?