Tiger Day 2017: Responsible Tourism Can Help Save the Tigers

On July 29th the world celebrates International Tiger Day for the 7th year. As all most of these recurrences, it’s a bitter-sweet reminder of our flawed relationship with wildlife. On one hand, we celebrate the beauty of nature and one of the most admired animals in the world, an animal which has come to incarnate powerful myths throughout the history of humankind. On the other hand, we are reminded of their impending extinction, caused by us, of course. 

Since the dawn of civilization the tiger has had a central role in all Asian cultures. In Nepalese mythology she is the symbol of unlimited power that protects virtue against evil. In Chinese folklore, the tiger represent the masculine power, the good king that protects good men against evil. In more modern times, we have Shere Khan, Tony the Tiger and Tigger.  

According to recent data, the total tiger population is 3,890 animals around the world. Last year for the first time in a century that number has increased thanks to the efforts to protect them and conserve their habitat. However, that was just the first step in a long way towards recovery for this species. The main threats to tigers have not been eliminated, the battle for the survival of the tigers continues and, given the nature of the dangers, it must involve a variety of subjects to be effective.

Loss of Habitat  

Tiger are losing their natural habitat as forests are destroyed to make space for human activities such as agriculture and new settlements. The booming Asian economy has also brought about a significant expansion of Asian infrastructure, as a consequence new roads have been built and they split up the tiger territories making more difficult for them to hunt their prey and mate.

The WWF has been particularly active to preserve these fragile habitats. Employing the most advanced scientific tool and research, they have been focusing their efforts on areas where the density of prey and tigers is the highest. Tiger corridors that link several sites are an important part of their project. Another essential part of the solution is the education of local communities in the preservation work. Since 2002, the Wildlife Protection Society of India  has established a community outreach program in the Sundarbarns region. The aim is to educate villagers living around the Tiger Reserve to view wildlife and their environment as an asset rather than a threat and to get involved in the efforts to preserve it.

Poaching 

Poaching is the most immediate threat for tigers. One third of tiger deaths is caused by poachers. Just a few days ago Indian conservationists have sounded the alarm of a rising number of tiger deaths this year. They are killed for trophy hunting or for commercial use because their body parts are ingredients of popular remedies in Chinese medicine.  In India, penalties for poachers have been enacted since 1972, but most of the cases brought to court are still pending. The illegal trade of tiger parts is now widespread and controlled by organized crime. A tiger can be killed for as little as just over a dollar for the cost of poison, or $9 for a steel trap. Much of the tiger poaching is done by locals who know their territory. Those hunters are usually paid a very small amount (in 1994, a trader paid four poachers $15 each for killing a tiger, it is the traders and the middlemen who make substantial profits from the illegal trade in tiger parts. That’s another reason why it is crucial to educate local communities to the value of their habitat.

Climate Change  

Climate change is also a factor that is going to affect the loss of territory for the Indian tiger. According to a study by the WWF, in Sundarbarns, one of the largest tiger reserves , the sea level is projected to rise about a foot by 2070 and as a result it could significantly reduce the tiger habitat in that region.

How  responsible tourism can help preserve tiger’s habitat

Because of its impact on natural habitat, tourism has its share of responsibility in the increasing difficulties faced by wildlife and endangered species.  For example, avoid at all costs tours where animals are manhandled and kept in cages to show to tourists, animals should live free in their territory.

However, tourism can also be part of the solution. It can promote international awareness of the threats to wildlife, there is nothing better than being close to a problem to know it. And eco-conscious travelers can bring back that knowledge back home and inspire others to help the cause. Responsible tourism also helps local communities to understand the value of the natural resources and wildlife of their territory.  As in the case of the tigers sometimes it is a love-hate relationship or a relationship based on past natural equilibrium that has been forever lost with the technological advances of the human civilization. That’s why when traveling for wildlife sightseeing it is crucial to choose carefully the destination and the local guides.

Where to stay

Kanha lodge eco resort near tiger reserve
Ph: Kanha Lodge

Bandhavgarh Jungle Lodge and Kanha Jungle Lodge are two Indian eco-resorts that are actively engaged in the protection of tigers. All their wildlife tours are accompanied by a resident naturalist who helps the guests to understand the surrounding eco-system and introduces them to the local communities and culture.

Bamboo Forest Safari Eco Lodge near tiger reserve
ph: Bamboo Forest Safari Lodge

On the shore on the Maasal lake and  next to the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve, the Bamboo Forest Safari Lodge also offers an immersive experience in the opulent nature of the region, while striving to maintain the balance with surrounding habitat and raising awareness on its delicate balance.

Spice Village Eco resort near tiger reserve
ph: Spice Village

Scented with cinnamon, cardamom and wildflowers, the slopes of the Periyar region are one of the tiger favorite habitats. And that’s exactly where The Spice Village is located. Inspired by mountain tribal villages of the Cardamom Hills that have perfected a gentle codependence with the surrounding wildlife, the resort has been designed for modern travelers who are looking to discover a timeless corner of the world while helping to preserve it.

Green Travel Gear: 12 items you can’t forget to pack

Choosing sustainable hotels and transportation are important factors to travel in an environmentally friendly way, however, what you pack is also very important. Here are a few essential items to bring along to make sure your travel will leave the smallest carbon foot-print as possible.

 

Let’s start from the suitcase, an essential companion especially for all those trips that last more than a weekend. The American classic brand Traveler’s Choice has expanded its line to include sustainably produced luggage.

Sustainable travel suitcaseTheir Eco-Traveler P.E.T. Spinner is manufactured recycling plastic bottles and is BPA free. Sturdy and yet lightweight, this eco-friendly case has many compartments and can be expanded if needed, while the 360-spinner wheels make it easy to move around.

 

Not just for hiking, a good backpack is also a must on any trip. It is the best way to carry safely all the items that might be needed along the road or at the destination without encumbering movement and pace.

 

The stylish EcoGear Ocean Recycled PET Backpack Eco backpack from recycled PETis ideal for light packing, but for something larger or more technical the go-to brand is definitely Patagonia with its great range of backpacks specifically designed for gender and sport.

 

To pack or not to pack? After we have our bags figured out, it’s time to think about what to put in them. Clothes are always a crucial dilemma when preparing for a trip. Apart from keeping in mind travel plans and climate conditions at the destination, one doesn’t want to be caught unprepared by events, for example what if you get invited to a local reception? Or to go sailing with the locals?

Nau eco friendly travel clothesThe best solution to be ready for all occasions and yet travel reasonably light is to put in your suitcase well-made, comfortable garments that can be easily styled according to the function and occasion. Nau’s travel collection offers some great easy-to-wear pieces made with organic and/or recycled fibers, this way nothing will be able to catch you off-guard in terms of fashion!

 

No matter how you travel, wearing the right pair of shoes definitely makes a difference during any trip, well …. anytime really.

Sustainable sneakers for travelGo for a bold style statement while traveling in comfort with the colorful sneakers by Inkkas. Not only are they are crafted respecting the environment by Peruvian artisans, but also for each pair of shoes purchased one tree is planted.

For more technical hiking or mountain shoes look no further than La Sportiva, available at all major hiking gear retailers.Eco hiking boots by La Sportiva

Since 1928, these Italian shoemakers have been crafting exceptional quality boots, while respecting the environment of their original location in the Alps. They have now extended this philosophy throughout their supply chain with the eco-sustainable certification ISO 14001.

 

Carrying full size toiletries bottles is not always the best solution when traveling. On the other hand, the travel size option is not very environmentally friendly and not suitable for trips longer than a handful of days.

GoToob eco-friendly travel tubes for food and toiletriesTo stash your favorite eco-friendly shampoo, conditioner or any liquid, creamy concoction, Go Toob offers travel bottles in several colors and sizes. Food-safe (FDA approved), and 100% BPA and PC-free, they are reusable and they even have an area to write what’s inside, this way there is no risk of confusing shampoo and lotion or baby food and face mask!

 

Looking for some cool shades that are ecofriendly and won’t break the bank? Zeal Optics and Blue Planet Eyewear are two brands that manufacture their products using plant derived materials rather than plastic. Zeal Optics specializes in polarized sunglasses designed mainly for the sporty/surfer types.Zeal eco-friendly sunglasses

Blue Planet Eyewear offers more trendy shapes, also available for children, and with every purchase they donate a pair of glasses to someone in need through their Visualize Change program.

 

Blue Planet eco fashion shades

 

LifeStraw eco water battle with filterWherever you go, a water bottle should always be in your bag, and in this category there really is a plethora of options. LifeStraw bottles stand out because not only are they BPA free and incorporate a water filter that eliminates almost 100% of waterborne bacteria, but for each bottle purchased, LifeStraw provides a child in a developing country safe drinking water for an entire year.

 

Another item that is always handy to have when traveling is a personal towel.

Nomadix eco towelAnd when it comes to eco-friendly towels, thanks to Nomadix it doesn’t need to be a boring monochromatic business. Their top of the line reversible towels are available in a variety of colorful patterns and prints. They can be used for yoga (they are slip resistant), at the beach or as a picnic blanket. All Nomadix towels are made from 100% recycled materials.

 

While on the go, the last thing we want is to have our devices run out of battery power, after all sharing our adventures is now an integral part of the experience. To make sure that this doesn’t happen, a solar recharger is just the nifty gadget to bring along.

Anker portable solar recharger

The Anker 21W Dual USB Solar Charger is one of the most popular choices on Amazon. It can charge two devices simultaneously and it is weather resistant. Since weather conditions and battery status might not coincide, get it with a portable power bank that will always be ready to juice up your phone when needed.

 

Didn’t all this talking about travel gear, put you in the mood for more green travel? Check out the latest offers and destinations on Wayaj and book your next earth-friendly adventure!

Wayaj Eco-Rating System for Hotels and Resorts

The Wayaj rating system was created to solve some of the issues with green hotel rating systems.  The first issue is that rating systems can be very complicated. This makes it difficult for hotels to comply with the rating system and for guests to appreciate it.  Our rating system is thorough yet concise.  Another issue was that many rating systems were created using subjective or arbitrary guidelines and thresholds without any evidence. This means that many hotels were receiving rating that they shouldn’t have (good or bad).  Our rating system was created by a sustainable professional with a background in green buildings. Also, many rating systems require too little or too much verification to confirm their rating.  Our rating system was created with this in mind to ensure that hotels have an easy time in submitting their hotel to our community.  In addition, our rating system needs to be verified on two ends.  The first is with data from the hotel and the second is from the hotel guests.
There are several categories that we determined as the most important when considering which green hotel to book with, community, water, management, energy, purchasing of products, waste, and indoor environment.

Community

In many areas, tourism is a major contributor to economic success. The goal is to drive tourism to low income areas of the world to reduce poverty, increase standard of living, spread the ideas of sustainable development issues to locals and travelers, and expose travelers to local culture and values.
In addition, negative impacts on the community such as traffic and its associated environmental, economic, and societal impacts should be avoided and reduced as much as possible.

Water

Hotels consume water for a variety of reasons including drinking, cleaning, bathing, cooking, waste removal, heating, and cooling. Due to the luxurious nature of hotels, much of this consumption is used for leisure or wasted.  Depending on the hotels location, this high-volume consumption can strain, deplete and contaminate the local water system.
The goal of this section is to implement the use of different technologies and programs to reduce water consumption, reuse water when possible, use natural sources of water, and practice sound wastewater treatment.

Management

It is difficult to make progress without proper leadership and planning.  Without sustainable management, employees can be mistreated and discriminated against. In addition, managers have the power to make sustainability a requirement for all employees. This makes the coordination and implementation of sustainable practices much easier.
The goal of this section is to provide a safe, healthy, and non-discriminatory work place for all genders, races, religions, social classes, and so on.  This section also rewards those that provide sustainability education to its employees.

Energy

Energy is one of the most significant contributors to human caused climate change and environmental destruction.  Clean, localized energy sources can improve energy reliability, national security, and human and environmental health conditions.
The goal of this credit is to reduce energy consumption as much as possible and use clean, reliable sources for the remaining electrical load.

Purchasing

Hotels need a constant in flow of materials in order to meet the needs and demands of guests in the overall operation of the hotel.  These products are often purchased from distant locations, which contributes to transportation related air emissions. In addition, many products are created from unsustainable supply chains.
The goal of this section is to promote the use of locally manufactured products and to purchase materials that have a sustainably sourced supply chain.

Waste

Hotels produce a lot of waste over their lifetime.  Each day, products are consumed and sent to landfills and incinerators, both of which can have human and environmental health issues.  In addition, the extraction of raw materials can lead to resource depletion.   If materials were used for efficiently, recycled, reused, and composted, these issues can be largely resolved.
The goal of this section is to practice sound waste management techniques in order to cut down on the need for new materials and waste sent to landfills and incinerators.

Indoor Environment

Humans spend a significant portion of their day indoors.  If the indoor area has poor quality, it could lead to a declination of health, satisfaction, and well-being.
The goal of this section is to promote the quality and management of the indoor environment in order to provide high guest satisfaction, health, and well-being.

 

10 Steps to Travel Green

What does it mean to travel green? What can you do during your stay that could minimize the environmental impact of your adventure? Those are just some of the questions we often ask ourselves when we are traveling. We all know traveling takes a lot of resources and has a significant impact on local communities and natural habitats. Traveling green is all about being conscious of the environment.  Here are ten tips to keep in mind when it comes to traveling green.

1. Book with Environmentally Friendly Airlines

Even though air travel is the least eco-friendly way of transportation, there are airlines that are working towards reducing their carbon impact. Fly with airlines that are part of the IATA carbon offset programs. Book non-stop flights as often as possible to reduce the amount of fuel needed.

2. Do Local, Buy Local

 

Doing local activities limits the need for transportation.  Staying local and buying local products such as art, souvenirs, food, and clothing promotes the local economy.  The locals can use this money to make their community an even better and greener travel destination.  Local products are also more likely to be made from green products and process. Also, avoid purchasing products from companies that exploit locals.

3. Use Local Transportation

The “greenest” form of transportation is human power (i.e. walking or biking).  It’s also a great way to get some exercise while traveling.  When staying local, try to walk or bike as often as possible to help keep cars off the road.  If transportation is needed while you are traveling, use low emission, low polluting methods, such as public transportation, hybrid, or electric vehicles.

4. Reduce Water Consumption

An indispensable item to bring while traveling is your personal BPA-free water bottle. There is no need to buy water bottles when you can refill your own.  Also, be sure to shut off the tap when you are done using it to avoid wasting water.  Many hotels use toilets, sinks, and showers that use much less water than the ones we use at home.

5. Reduce Energy Consumption

When not in the room, it is always good practice to turn off any lights and the air conditioning, some hotels have special room keys that will do this for you as you exit the room.  Reusing towels and linens is not only a way to save water, but it saves energy as well since less washing and drying is needed.

6. Do Low Carbon Activities

Activities such as horseback riding, mountain climbing, swimming, hiking, snorkeling, scuba diving, and trekking are just some of the activities that help travelers to embrace and discover the local natural wonders while keeping the air free from emissions and pollutants.

7. Respect Local Habitats and Species

When traveling to new locations you will see all kinds of new animals, plants, landscapes, and habitats.  Avoid disturbing these areas as much as possible.  This will allow future travels to appreciate them as well.  Also, don’t purchase products made from endangered plants and animals. Remember the saying, “Take nothing but pictures, leave only footprints”.

8. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Many popular travel destinations around the world are littered with trash.  The best way to keep our favorite destinations clean is to limit the amount of products you use. Of course, we all use products when we travel, so be sure to reuse and recycle them after use.  The best example is a reusable water bottle.  It limits the need for non-reusable bottles, can be used again and again, and can be recycled.

9. Share Your Experience

After experiencing the beauty of the chosen destination, there is no better way to show gratitude than to spread the word. Writing a review is a great way to start. Not only does it let the host know how much you enjoy your time there, it’s also an inspiring testimony for travelers that are thinking of going there. For some of us, we feel empowered after such amazing journey and we don’t want to stop there.

10. Choose a Green Hotel for Your Stay!

Carefully choose the place that you decide to stay. Look for places that implement green practices like recycling, composting, environmentally friendly products, local products, clean energy, and promote the local community. Many hotels are gradually switching to green practices.

On Wayaj you can find a great selection of green hotels from around the world, continuously updated with new hotels and offers!