From the team at BBC Wildlife Magazine

How to be a responsible wildlife traveller

While there is no single, globally accepted code of conduct for responsible wildlife tourism, travellers themselves need to take responsibility.

Published: December 1, 2021 at 8:23 am
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Seeing wildlife in its natural habitat is a wonderful experience, but it's important to ensure that wildlife tourism is done responsibly, respectfully and sustainably so it doesn't have a negative effect on the environment. Sustainable tourism, if done correctly, can even help conservation efforts.


1. Take only picture, leave only footprints

A healthy, safe environment is at the heart of all responsible wildlife travel, so always take home everything you take with you – including batteries, plastic bags and bottles.

2. Ivory looks better on an elephant

Never be tempted to buy wildlife souvenirs. Don’t be persuaded that the creature is already dead and therefore it does no harm. Buying it will both fuel future trade and encourage sellers to capture or kill more animals.

Elephants in Botswana. © Getty
Elephants in Botswana. © Getty

3. Keep wildlife wild

Wild animals are not pets so don’t pet or feed them, or encourage them to behave in an unnatural way. Don’t support organisations that bait sites to attract animals – this can be dangerous for local people if wildlife learn to associate humans with food.

4. No animal selfies

Don’t have photographs taken posing with a wild animal. Many of these animals have been taken from the wild and their mothers killed. They may be drugged, harshly trained or have their teeth removed to ensure they ‘behave’ around tourists.

5. It’s no fun for them

Avoid wild animal entertainments such as riding elephants for fun. These animals are often captured from the wild, inadequately cared for and usually trained using inappropriate and cruel methods. If it’s not natural behaviour, it’s probably cruel.

6. Local people are the best conservationists

Show respect for local people and their culture. Use local providers so money from your trip benefits communities.

A female Bengal tiger with cubs at the edge of a pool in Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India. © James Warwick/Getty Images
A female Bengal tiger with cubs at the edge of a pool in Bandhavgarh National Park, Madhya Pradesh, India. © James Warwick/Getty Images

7. Check reputations

Ask questions about the reputation of any potential travel supplier, and check out their code of conduct for wildlife and the environment.


8. Take expert advice

If visiting a key wildlife habitat, for example a turtle nesting beach, go with a trained guide. They will be able to ensure both your safety and the welfare of the animals.


Jo PriceDeputy editor, BBC Wildlife Magazine

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