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Africa Geographic
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Africa Geographic Travel

One of the greatest challenges facing conservation is how fragmented and siloed its greatest champions can be – both from each other and from the funds needed to translate ideas into action. Conservation Lab believes in travel as a for-profit conservation model, but in order for this to be more successful and effective than other models such as hunting or trade, stronger links need to be constructed between the worlds of travel and conservation.

Consequently, the Conservation Lab was conceived to bring together committed conservationists and travel industry leaders passionate about supporting sustainability, with the ambition of building bridges, uncovering insights and collectively brainstorming solutions to Africa’s conservation challenges. Ralf Buckley, international chair in ecotourism research at Griffith University in Australia, presented the below information on a Spark Talk at Conservation Lab 2016:

When it comes to showing that tourism does indeed contribute to conservation on a global scale, there are three things that should be measured.

1. What proportions of national parks’ agency budgets are from tourism funding

The below graphic shows park’s agency budgets funded by tourism per country. At the top end of the scale is Botswana and the Seychelles, with more than 80%, while Australia and the USA fall on the bottom right will billions contributed by the government, and not much from tourism.

2. What proportions of remaining individuals of rare species rely on tourism funding

The below graphic shows the proportions of remaining populations of red listed IUCN mammals, funded by tourism. Rhino, elephant, lion and many iconic species are seen to rely heavily on tourism funding.


Ecotourism helps these populations beyond funding with the expansion of protected habitat areas, through a change in local behaviours via incentives, through the need for direct on-ground anti-poaching activities and through marketing opportunities.

3. What’s the net effect of ecotourism on survival chances of rare species

Tourism can make a big difference to particular species that risk extinction. Some species, such as orangutans, could possibly face extinction without tourism, because of other activities that would take precedence, such as logging. The cheetah, in multiple populations in sub-Saharan Africa, is protected thanks to the need for tourism.


So in short, tourism is working as an effective conservation tool. The science is on the side of tourism to contribute to conservation and should be supported as such. View Ralf Buckley’s talk in the below video:


As part of an ongoing commitment to aligning the worlds of travel and conservation, and pushing forward joint conservation efforts, Beyond Luxury Media has launched the second Conservation Lab, taking place from 29 April – 1 May 2017. Apply now to book your spot.

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