Ethical, eco-friendly, and responsible traveling has been booming since the past decade. Gone are the days when you travel to a country just to take a tour bus and sit idly by. Luckily, when it comes to traveling, being responsible prove to be a lot less boring than wasting the day away at some local cafe. These days, adventure travel means anything from teaching English to underprivileged kids, planting at a local organic farm, to building sustainable homes for indigenous people. If animals hold a special place in your heart, then rescue and conservation traveling might be for you. If you have been planning a trip to Asia, here are 3 animals that you can help while traveling:
1. Sun Bears in Borneo
Sun bears are the smallest bears in Southeast Asia. Sun bear cubs can be pretty docile so they suffer greatly from the pet trade. They are also threatened by commercial poaching and habitat loss. You can help save sun bears by volunteering in a month long program at a Sun Bear Rehabilitation Center in Borneo. You will be involved in the daily care of the bears. As such, you will be expected to clean their dens and help in their feeding and food preparation. You will also help in educating the public about the bears by assisting in school and private tours. Accommodations will be humble but you get three meals a day and the fees also include airport transfers.
2. Elephants in Thailand
Thailand is well-known for the strong bond between the elephants and their mahouts (elephant trainer and caretaker). However, the Thailand’s elephants still suffer from poaching due to ivory demands in China and Vietnam. As Thailand develops, the elephants also suffer from severe habitat loss. There are several elephant conservations in Thailand but you can start by visiting the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. The park offers simple daily visits where you can interact and feed the elephants but you should join the “Journey to Freedom” week long volunteer program if you want the full experience. In this program, you will be interacting with both the elephants and the indigenous Karen people at an elephant sanctuary that covers three local villages. The goal is to teach people to earn an income with the help of the elephants without abusing, exploiting them, and sending them to trek camps.
3. Turtles in Sri Lanka
If being near a beach is more your thing, then stop in Sri Lanka to help some turtles. Turtle eggs are a local delicacy in Sri Lanka. Their consumption is directly related to the decline in the turtle population in the local coasts. Stay a week at a turtle sanctuary where they maintain a good turtle hatchery. You can help in cleaning the turtle tanks and prepare their food. You will also be involved in enrichment programs that train the turtles to rely on their natural instincts once released into the sea. The best part of the sanctuary is the nightly beach patrols where you make sure the eggs are safe from predators.