Responsible tourism: Volunteer at Batang Ai national park, Borneo
We promote ethical tourism, particularly with regards to how tourists should interact (or not) with wildlife when they are travelling. Each volunteer that joins our projects is given a lecture on this subject, so our volunteers are left in no doubt how to avoid attractions/locations that profiteer on animal exploitation and illegal trade in wildlife. On any of our projects there is no contact with any animals, and on this project at Batang Ai our groups are only there to observe and collect photos of the animals.
We are using existing infrastructure that the local authorities provide at the national park, so as to have minimal impact on the integrity of the park at large. All of our supplies for our volunteers are sourced from local markets and communities, and all waste is taken away when our group finishes its project. Food waste will be composted on site, and we hope to introduce composting practices to the local communities. Our group sizes will be no larger than 10, so as to leave as little disturbance as possible when trekking and working in the park.
At each location on this tour we employ members of the communities nearest to the national parks as cooks, guides, drivers, boatmen and assistants where required, so as to provide a financial benefit to these communities on account of our groups visiting the area. All shopping for supplies, particularly for the stay in Batang Ai, is done at local markets in towns and villages on the way to the national park.
Through this project, we hope to provide a sustainable and meaningful income to a number of communities that reside close to Batang Ai national park, so as to decrease their need to use products of the land to support themselves. We have already achieved this with one community in the park through one of our tours where incidents of hunting in particular have decreased significantly as we are able to guarantee them sustainable income from our eco-tourism guests.
This is a very long term goal of our project, and volunteers should not be expecting to see meaningful conservation outcomes achieved in the 2 weeks that they spend with us. We have been working with one community for 12 years so far and have recently started to see behavioural change and increases in the numbers of animals living on their land. Our organisation is committed to long term sustainable projects that make a meaningful difference over many years, and hopefully far into the future, and your work on this project with be a very small, but significant and rewarding, contribution to a much larger project.