Smaller footprints to Wildlife Conservation

Written by  Mary Kate Alfieri

Big, cute, cuddly, white bears... I understand the attraction most have to polar bears because I am one of those people who would love to curl up inside the paws of one of these guys- I think I sometimes forget they are land's largest predator.Whoops. But many share my desire to see a real polar bear in his natural Arctic habitat - while there's still time... before they become extinct... before polar bears are a memory seen only on the Discovery Channel.

The reality isn't at all simple. Polar bears, like other species of endangered animals, actually become more threatened as the number of tourists to their native lands increase. Something as simple as dropping a wrapper in to the snow - that could later be ingested by a cub - increases your carbon footprint and decreases an animal's lifetime. However, this shouldn't discourage you from seeing and helping endangered species- just make you more aware of their needs and how you can give something back or help protect them. If you're going to spend your money on a holiday, you might as well put it to good use and there are many places to go where your footprints will do less damage than your dollar can fix. Heading to Canada's arctic region to see all your northern friends can be just as good an option as going to the North Pole and more environmentally friendly.

The threatened Galapagos Islands may be the only place to see unusual species like the Galapagos tortoise and endemic iguanas and there are many tours and conservation groups that offer guided trips there, however, for a more gentle footprint consider South Africa's turtle hatching season in Maputaland. Most of the money raised here goes back to the Maputaland Sea Turtle Program.

An adventure in Lemur Town, Madagascar, gives you a unique opportunity to see colorful chameleons, several types of snakes and a large reserve full of spunky little lemurs. Visiting pandas in their safe habitat is also possible – the Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuariesprovide protection for one third of all the world's pandas! If you thought your uncle's pet iguana was cool as a kid then the 4 meter long Komodo dragons on Komodo Island will knock you off your feet.

As well as visiting conservations and sanctuaries and donating money, another way to help endangered animals is to volunteer. People come from all over the world to donate their time and energy to help the lovable Orange Utans in Sepilok, Malaysia, or the giant elephants at Pinawala Elephant Orphanage might be more your forte? Here you can bath them, feed them and even clean up after them! There are also many ways you can help conserve the Amazon which are worth into if you're an animal lover.

Visiting and volunteering on conservations gives you the power to help threatened animals that can't really help themselves, you just need to tread lightly and be careful how you go about it. Taking one of the many opportunities there are to help the world and donating your time and money to these causes will better ensure that your children and grandchildren can go visit the lions at the Masai Mara Safari in the same way that you could.

Amazing Wildlife Experiences

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