Not Just a Tourist, Here’s My 9 Step Guide To Become An Eco-Tourist Today!

Eco tourism is critical. We have far left behind the years when this was simply ‘important’- today it is critical. Today each one of us must contribute towards nature. Nature has all the resources to satisfy man’s need. Although humans have become increasingly greedy (our ‘needs’ remain the same, our ‘wants’ spiral out of control), we need, we want but no one gives back. No one replenishes what they take.
ecotourism
Let me explain biodiversity in the simplest way- the variety of life on earth that exists where each and every species is given equal importance. Homo Sapiens understand the importance of Gender Equality, they promote equal rights for both sexes and give equal importance to both men and women. We know that genders are interdependent. Men can’t live without women and visa versa. Similarly in an ecosystem, species of plants and animals live with each other. Not to forget man also forms a part of an ecosystem. Why then are different species of plants and animals not afforded the same importance, why is the perception of importance between species so skewed?

DSC02826
This photo was clicked on the outskirts of Bangalore at Hessarghatta lake bed and grassland. The habitat is rich in biodiversity but has suffered extensive damage due to over-enthusiastic travellers, unethical photographers, overgrazing cattle and off-roading and motor biking activities by locals and tourists.

Various human activities have triggered an increase in the population of invasive species which make the survival of other species difficult. This directly hampers the food chain along with the habitat and leads to vulnerable existences in the ecosystem. Today mother earth is screaming for protection and man is single-handedly responsible for having put her in such a trouble. There is still time to put a full stop to this destruction by those responsible for this vulnerable position we find ourselves in. You might like to question me- why should I conserve. To them I say go- back to school and read your 8th Std science textbooks once more.

Here’s why you must conserve:

–  Rain-forests are responsible for a stable climate; heard of global warming? Destruction of rainforests is a major contributor!

– Most resources and raw materials that we use today for medicinal or industrial purpose come from the forests

– The ozone layer is still intact, thanks to forests, else we’d be dying of skin cancer

– Studies say that pollution and temperature rise shall destroy all the coral reefs in the next 20-40 years

– The earth’s biological treasures are thrashed and scientists are calling it the 6th mass extinction event

– Thanks to birds that today we can fly Mumbai-Delhi and overseas in no time. Nature is highly inspirational

10446042_408021799336663_5326395835491491533_o
The Small Pratincole clicked at Malyadi Bird Sanctuary in Karnataka

The reasons for conservation are infinite. If I sit back and start writing it would take me a lifetime- suffices to say, if we don’t conserve mother nature, mother nature will not sustain us. There are many ways by which you can do your bit for nature. I would want you to focus on your roles towards conservation via eco-tourism, one of the fun ways of conserving and helping nature. The tourism that we are exploring today isn’t about living in luxury resorts, throwing waste on streets and in lakes, travelling in AC cars, feeding wild animals, habitat destruction and disturbing the entire balance of the ecosystem. We are talking about responsible tourism where you trek, cycle, live with local tribes, experience the real jungle, learn and conserve. Promising yourself to do all that it takes to protect nature- that’s what makes you a responsible eco-tourist.

So if you are planning on becoming an Eco-Tourist in India here are a few points to remember:

  1. Read and collect Info: Read as much as you can about the place you’re travelling to- before you go there. Read about all the wildlife found in that ecosystem, distance to maintain from these animals and activities to do without causing disturbances to that habitat.

    Preparation is the Key!

     

  2. Don’t encourage ill practices: Clicking pictures with wild animals or throwing stones to see them react, unruly behavior with local communities, feeding animals, off-roading on open spaces and grasslands

    I came across this Rhesus Macaque baby near the Shivapuri National Park in Nepal. I am totally against petting wild animals. Most of these locals end up earning money when people pose with their pets. Encouraging these poor villagers for petting wild animals is a very common mistake done by most travellers who are not yet eco-travellers!

     

  3. Avoid plastic: Avoiding plastic as much as you can is a good practice in day to day life. According to a recent study, 5 trillion pieces of plastic are floating on the world’s ocean weighing about 269,000 tonnes. India ranks 12th on the list of twenty worst marine polluter countries. While on your eco-tour try to reuse your plastic bottle or replace them by steel bottles. Plastic is one the biggest pollution problems in natural spaces and cities.
    plastic-bottle-1184735_960_720
    Plastic is one of the biggest problem!

     

  4. Follow the “Leave Only Footprints Approach”: While you explore jungles try and bring back the smallest of your waste. Dispose wherever it is possible to reuse/recycle or is the most appropriate place.
    Leave Only Footprints!

     

  5. Stay on the trail when you go on treks within the wild: This is beneficial for both you and the wild animals. You can easily find your way back without disturbing the animals or invading in their personal space.
    Follow the trail- always!

     

  6. Avoid smoking: This is good for your lungs and the earth’s lungs- the forests. Umpteen times cigarettes thrown in dry deciduous forests have triggered uncontrollable forest fires. Forest fires are the single most important cause of destruction of many species at once. It is imperative that we take all necessary precautions to prevent such avoidable disasters. Also cigarette butts take about two to twenty-five years to biodegrade, if ingested by wildlife animals or marine life it’s often fatal for them.
    Pic credits: pixabay.com
    Avoid smoking; if not please dispose your cigarette butts carefully!

     

  7. Learn to be ethical in the forests. Photographs are one of the essentials in a traveler’s diary. Learn photography ethics or simply talk to the experts to get an idea of how to click wildlife without disturbing them. Here are some links to help you:
    http://www.digicamhelp.com/how-to/nature/wildlife-photography-ethics/
    http://focusingonwildlife.com/news/nature-photography-ethics-and-conservation-issues/

    I personally like distant photography. This photograph speaks so much about the animal’s habitat. Isn’t it better to capture and witness a Wild Elephant family enjoying at their home. Clicked at Anamalai Tiger reserve in Tamil Nadu.

     

  8. Get involved with organisations who promote eco-tourism in India: You can choose to work and be an active part of non- govt organisations. I would like to list a few names here- bigger organisations like WWF-India and BNHS run tours and events, but also many other independent naturalist and researchers do occasional tours for limited number of people. You must keep an eye on the blog or my facebook page for more info on this-
    Spending time with local communities!
    Spending time with local communities in Hampi and learning about their culture closely!

     

  9. Make Donations: Everyone must make it a point to donate to conservation efforts! If you do not like ecotourism and wish to travel with all your luxuries and disturb nature- then it’s even more imperative to donate to causes that support conservation. Everyone needs to support the cause 🙂
    Here are a few links to help you: https://www.snowleopard.org/shop/index.php?main_page=donate
    http://support.wwfindia.org/index.php?link=1&source=WWF_WEB Pic credits: Pixabay.com

Also just thought of telling you; I have been working independently to support local communities, our natural habitat and smaller home-stays through my travel and blogging across India, any help to my travel fund will be highly appreciated!

So will you become an ecotourist today and forever? Let me know in the comments below.

PS: This article was first published on Holidify.com

 

Continue Reading

A Window In The Life Of A Physiotherapist Lost In The Woods

The best window ever!
The best window ever!

“Open the window of your mind. Allow the fresh air, new lights and new truths to enter.” -Amit Ray

The above quote popped into my mind as I opened this beautiful window in one of the best rooms I had ever lived in. I thought about my journey, a very difficult one, from being a professional physiotherapist to being in the wild, always! From rejections to depression, from working under a really terrible boss to standing up for it and quitting on my own terms, with only the last 500 bucks in my account to calling a friend and asking for some money to have a meal. At 26, it is rather difficult to call a friend or parents to ask for money. Lucky are those who haven’t faced this situation in their lives and those for whom this task is easy!

When I re-think of what life (which I once thought was a bitch) has done to me over years- my eyes hold tears and nothing else. The subtle difference being, now these tears aren’t just the tears of sadness. There’s a whole lot of happiness and sometimes a lot more emotions! Why in the first place had I, a doctor from a reputed university working at a renowned hospital ever quit her well paying job? I now know the answer!

Because life is all about the little joys, smiles and real happiness. 

The happiness that you discover within yourself. When I spent time at an Ashram of a renowned Saint Maharshi, I learnt that each human being has a whole big universe within. This encompasses our emotions, feelings, wants and needs. Within all this lies a piece of happiness and that genuine happiness, I have discovered envelopes me when I am lost in the woods. That enlightened mind full of thoughts, with the feelings that I need no-one when I am in the forests watching infinite little croaking frogs and colourful flying birds! They are indeed my best friends. Maybe they couldn’t give me money when I needed it the most. That’s when I realized “I love man no less, but nature more.”

When I get up in the morning, I feel extremely mesmerized by the forests with fresh, happy and peaceful thoughts every single day. How beautiful life gets with these thoughts, I thought, looking out of that window. A woodpecker comes and knocks at the panel by the side of this huge window. I talk to him, he tells me he’s confused. But I still continue talking. I smile at him and he’s still confused as to why he can’t make a hole in this bloody thing? He checks along the panel to make his nest, a place safe for his family. I tell him, we are human beings, the smartest species on earth, and no matter how hard he tries, he wouldn’t be able to make a hole there! Probably after some time he understood and left my window, leaving me again to lose myself in my own joyous thoughts of the forests and rains.

Many people ask me- do I ever feel lonely in the woods? The answer is an empathetic NO! And it will always be NO. I am merry within, my thoughts are pure and I have made friends with nature and creatures. How many of us today can think of making friends with and getting close to nature? For now I have known how to make money for myself or at least live a life with just the basics! The forests taught me something very important- it taught me to be less greedy, less needy and still be happy!

How many of us today are fighting for a job, a girlfriend or a companion, a lot of money, a house, a vacation, exotic food and some more luxury like new trendy clothes, smokey makeup and latest skincare? But I am just standing at my window and looking at the forest, lost within myself, being joyous!  🙂

Do I need more from life, no!

And you? What is that one thing that gives you happiness. Share in the comments below, I will be more than happy to read!  🙂 

PS: Any help to my travel fund will be highly appreciated.

Continue Reading