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2003 Tiger in the Forest large

Tiger in the Forest: Sustainable Nature Based Tourism in Southeast Asia provided a forum to examine ways to address the needs of unique and fragile ecosystems through the economic and conservation potential of ecotourism.  In addition to talks and panel discussions, thee ideas were explored in the symposium's poster session.  Poster abstracts follow.


Can Tourism Really Save the Indo-Chinese Tiger?
Reza Azmi

The Indo-Chinese tiger or the Malayan tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti) is widely distributed across Southeast Asia, namely China, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and eastern Myanmar (Burma). Throughout its range, the Indo-Chinese tiger is under significant pressure from habitat loss, reduced prey-densities and from hunters seeking tiger parts for the illegal traditional Chinese medicine trade. All of these pressures will undoubtedly increase over the next decade.

The crux of the question remains, how can tourism actually benefit tiger conservation throughout its range states? If we were to consider Malaysia, which is at the southern end of the distribution of Indo-Chinese tigers, it is possible that tiger-tourism may not be viable at all. Firstly, from a tourism-perspective, tiger tourism outside of the Indian continent is virtually unknown. Secondly, the equatorial rainforest does not allow for easy sightings of tigers. Even if nature tourism based on tigers is viable, an economic incentive for protecting tigers would remain at the hands of entrepreneurs, and their motivation maybe economic (pushing for larger numbers) and not for conservation. Furthermore, from local observations, it is often the case that nature-based tourism does not actually contribute significantly towards protected area management or enforcement.

In Malaysia at least, an initiative is being developed by (a non-profit, nature-tourism information site for Malaysia and its neighbors) that aims to try to persuade visitors to their website to directly support conservation projects. At one level it will provide information about the status and plight of the Indo-Chinese tiger (and other wild cats). It will create opportunities to raise funds for specific conservation projects that are working to address conservation problems at multiple levels (for example, policy interventions or field research). In Malaysia, for instance, some potential projects that could get further exposure could be work by TRAFFIC South East Asia on illegal wildlife trade, habitat conservation via the Northern Forest Initiative by WWF Malaysia, or even particular field conservation projects by other wildlife researchers. This is but one of the ways in which we could harness the interest of nature tourists towards supporting tiger conservation, without actually having any “tiger tourism” per se.

Dr Reza Azmi
47 B Sri Hartamas 2
Sri Hartamas
50480 Kuala Lumpur

Reforestation in the Monarch Butterfly Overwintering Areas in Mexico
Maraleen Manos-Jones

The Michoacan Reforestation Fund, a nonprofit organization, through the La Cruz Habitat Protection Project, a grassroots community development initiative in Mexico, has been reforesting in and around the Monarch Overwintering areas since 1997. Since then, over 850,000 trees have been planted.

Our reforestation project helps revitalize the local ecosystem and gives the communities living in and around the Monarch Butterfly Overwintering Areas in Mexico hope as well as a means to become economically self-sufficient through selective tree harvesting in a sustainable forest environment.

In 2002, we were given The Conservation Award from Smithsonian Magazine/U.S. Tour Operators Association. Our Spirit of Butterflies Tour was initiated in 2000 to benefit the reforestation program. We have received three grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which has sent teams to Mexico to evaluate our project. Their detailed and positive assessment is available upon request. Ed Rashin, a Forest Hydrologist, has monitored the program over the years. His meticulous reports, which, among other details, show a success survival rate of MRF trees to be over 80%. The most recent report is also available upon request.

Dr. Lincoln Brower, Professor Emeritus of Biology, has been studying the monarchs for thirty years and is on the Board of Directors of Michoacan Reforestation Fund. A study he conducted in conjunction with The World Wildlife Fund and the Institutes of Ecology and Geography in Mexico has unequivocally shown a sixty percent degradation of the forest canopy from 1971-1999 in the principal overwintering areas of the monarchs. He contends that the only solution is reforestation and that the MRF and La Cruz Habitat Protection Projects are the only programs that are successfully addressing the issue.

Our success can be attributed to the fact that the project was founded and is administered by local Michoacan community leaders. In addition, local indigenous communities fully participate in the reforestation effort and now realize that their future lies with sustainable reforestation.

Maraleen Manos-Jones
tel or fax 718-398-3096

Conservation and Development in Arunachal Pradesh, India
Jon Miceler, Director AP Programs, Inner Asian Conservation

Bordered on the west by Bhutan, to the north by China (Tibet) and to the east by Myanmar, the extreme northeast Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh remains today a world little changed by the global forces rapidly shaping other parts of Asia. The sheer inaccessibility of this land where 64% of the its geographic area is classified as mountainous, coupled with geopolitical tensions between India and China, has preserved arguably the most biodiverse, intact ecosystem left in Asia. This biodiversity is facilitated by:

  • Convergence in the region of three major floral groups; the Indochinese/Indomalayan tropical lowland flora, the Sino-Himalayan/East Asiatic flora and the Western/Central Himalayan flora;
  • Influence by two separate monsoonal systems; and
  • Variation in elevation from 160 meters at the Assam border to over 7,000 meters on the mountain tops that form the states border with China.

Inner Asian Conservation (IAC) has chosen to focus its conservation and development initiatives at this tri-junction of political and ecological worlds. We are approaching conservation here with the understanding that conservation can best be sustained with concurrent rise in the economic welfare of human communities living in and around target areas.

Creation of new protected areas in key areas adjacent to large and intact forests in China, Bhutan and Myanmar.

1. Eastern Arunachal Hayuliang Biosphere Reserve:
The creation of the 5,000 km2 Hayuliang Biosphere Reserve in eastern Arunachal’s will occur first. This PA is contiguous with other protected areas in both China and Myanmar and abuts two of the states already established reserves. When protected the Biosphere Reserve will create an entirely contiguous 2 million hectare transboundary conservation complex- the largest in Asia- effectively linking the Eastern Himalaya/Indo Burma regions.

2. Western Arunachal Alaya Corridor Biosphere Reserve:
The 2,700 km2 Alaya Corridor Biosphere Reserve runs parallel to the Bhutan border. This reserve is also contiguous with three protected areas in Bhutan.

3. Community Based Ecotourism:
Prior to the creation of these reserve, IAC has been involved in implementing community based ecotourism and other micro-enterprise initiatives which focus on local monitoring and enforcement of quality control measures to avoid pitfalls, such as elite capture and overbuilding, other areas of India: (Manali, Ladakh and Gangtok) continue to struggle with.

Due to Arunachal Pradesh’s scenic mountain splendor, ecotourism is a viable source of local income. At the village level, specifically near existing and potential protected areas, ecotourism in the form or trekking, wildlife tours, rafting, and mountaineering will provide part of the economic incentive to value and protect forests, rivers and wildlife as the platform upon which ecotourism and economic growth is based.

The Role of Botanical Research in Ecotourism Development of Ha Long Bay, a World Heritage Site in Vietnam
Nguyen Tien Hiep, Ruth Kiew, Wendy Gibbs, and Jacinto Regalado, Jr.

Ha Long Bay, a World Heritage Site, is renowned for its spectacular seascape with karst limestone islands dotting the wide bay. In spite of its popularity as a tourist destination in northern Vietnam, little was known about the flora until intensive botanical surveys were conducted to gather specimens for an illustrated field guide of the wild plants of Ha Long Bay. The surveys, carried out over 18 months, were initiated and implemented by IUCN-Vietnam in collaboration with the Ha Long Bay Management Department and was funded by the Royal Netherlands Embassy. Scientific studies have shown that its flora is extremely diverse, and seven new species have been discovered. All the new species are endemic to Ha Long Bay (they are found nowhere else in the world). The publication of a field guide in 2000 was commemorated with the launching of postcards, stamps, and first day covers. The field guide and collectible items—results of botanical research—have greatly raised the awareness of both local and international tourists on the interesting and unique plants of the islands in Ha Long Bay. Continuing botanical explorations on these islands are being conducted.

Botany Dept., Institute of Ecology & BiologicalResources
National Centre for Natural Sciences and Technology
18 Hoang Quoc Viet Road, Cau Giay
Hanoi, Vietnam
Tel. 011-84-4-756-5087
Fax 011-84-4-756-6644

A pilot survey of nature-based tourism at Kaziranga National Park and World Heritage Site, India
Rahul J. Shrivastava and Joel T. Heinen

Tourism is increasingly becoming theme-specific in India and has attracted new interest from the government and private sector. India accounts for 0.37% of international tourist arrivals and 0.66% of the world tourism revenue. International arrivals numbered 2.54 million in 2001, while domestic travelers were estimated at 234 million. The Union Budget of 2002-03 announced the development of six new international tourism circuits in the country, including Guwahati-Kaziranga-Shillong-Tawang in the northeast.

During the past decade, tourist arrivals at Kaziranga National Park, home to the endangered one-horned rhinoceros have fluctuated due to political unrest, with the situation improving in recent years. In 2000-01, under a larger study of park-people relations at Kaziranga, a questionnaire based pilot survey was undertaken to develop a profile of the visitors, their wildlife interests and willingness to pay. The random sample comprised 10 respondents, domestic and foreign. Mean respondent age was 42.1 years (SE = 5.2, SD = 16.3), 27.6% of domestic visitors were < 18 years with no foreign visitors in that age class. Length of stay and willingness to pay for viewing wildlife differed significantly between foreign and domestic visitors. Foreign visitors stayed longer and were willing to spend more. An overwhelming 80% of all visitors derived maximum enjoyment from viewing rhinos compared to other species. Domestic visitors preferred to make monetary donations benefiting wildlife/livestock veterinary services, while foreigners were keen on local employment and Park protection. The survey identified key differences between domestic and foreign visitors and found potential for expanding community involvement in deriving benefits from nature-based tourism.

Department of Environmental Studies and
Southeast Environmental Research Center, Florida International University,
University Park, Miami, Florida 33199, USA
Fax: 305-348-6202,

American Museum of Natural History

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