Attending the 2nd African Primatological Society Conference in Uganda, IGCP represented by the Communications officer, Alice Mbayahi was honored to participate in a round table discussion on Primate Ecotourism: Opportunities and Challenges for Conservation and Sustainable Development. Speaking at the panel, the Communications Officer talked about how realistic the great ape tourism guidelines are.
In her sharing Alice emphasized the need to appreciate and understand the objectives of the guidelines and to ensure respect and enforcement of the same especially those that do not require a lot of effort. “Before we question how realistic the great ape tourism guidelines are, it is important to first appreciate that they are at least in place and then focus on understanding why they were put in place” Alice explained that doing this will allow for complete adoption and enforcement of the guidelines by respective governments/park authorities and observance as well as respect of the same by tourists and other tourism value chain players. “The guidelines are in place and it is up to us to make them work” Alice added.
Alice also appealed for mass awareness creation on great ape best practice guidelines at all levels saying this would promote adherence to the tourism guidelines. Other key issues from the panel discussions included; the critical need to use masks when visiting primates, the need to check/manage in-appropriate marketing of tourism services/products by tour operators and inappropriate use of social media by tourists, development of a regional tourism policy harmonizing inconsistences and gaps across the range states/continent, and the need to review great ape guidelines and tailor them to specific apes and park realities. The panel appealed to protected area authorities that have not yet embraced the use of masks especially Uganda Wildlife Authority to consider implementing this guideline with immediate effect.
The conference that brought together several conservationists, donors, researchers and academicians was held on 3rd to 5th Sept with the aim of creating a platform to share knowledge and experiences on great ape conservation in Africa.