Many of our travel programs give students the chance to visit an animal sanctuary. While doing a service project at a wildlife sanctuary is fun and rewarding, it’s beneficial to understand the importance of conservation. We’re sharing 7 things you need to know about wildlife conservation and animal sanctuaries. So let’s jump in.
Here are some frequently asked questions about wildlife conservation and animal sanctuaries:
1. What is wildlife conservation?
Wildlife conservation is the practice of protecting animal species and their habitats. Yet the term “wildlife conservation” mostly refers to species that are endangered. Polar bears are a great example. Currently, they’re a vulnerable species because their numbers are decreasing (due to melting sea ice). With less hunting grounds, polar bears are having to swim farther for food. Wildlife conservation efforts come into play with organizations like the WWF (World Wildlife Fund). Similar types of organizations raise awareness and funds to try to do something about this problem and to protect these animals.
2. Why is wildlife conservation important?
All animals play an important role in the ecosystem. If one species goes extinct, or a habitat is damaged because of deforestation or pollution it threatens the entire food chain and ecosystem. This is why wildlife conservation is so critical. The fine tuned balance of earth’s ecosystem is in danger.
3. When did wildlife conservation begin?
Wildlife conservation has been happening for over 100 years. However, animal conservation likely dates further with indigenous peoples commonly having sustainable living practices. They understood the importance of respecting wildlife and natural resources.
Interestingly, one of the first wildlife conservation organizations was founded in 1889 by Emily Williamson. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in England was founded because exotic birds were being killed for their large feathers and used for fashionable hats.
Since the 1880s other hunting, conservation, and scientific organizations formed and lobbied for stricter laws on hunting for meat, fur, animal hides and feathers. These types of societies and organizations also fought for bans on wasteful sport hunting.
Now let’s talk about animal sanctuaries, because they play a part in wildlife conservation.
4. What are animal sanctuaries?
Animal sanctuaries are facilities or areas that protect animals that have been rescued and the animals live in a more natural and comfortable environment.
5. Are animal sanctuaries ethical?
If an animal sanctuary is motivated by profit, then it’s safe to say those types of sanctuaries aren’t ethical. Animals sanctuaries shouldn’t be motivated by profit. Unfortunately, some animal rescues and sanctuaries can be tourist traps, and the animals aren’t necessarily rescued or treated humanely. They might even be bred there. With a bit of research you can tell whether a sanctuary is ethical. You can look into how the animals are housed, acquired, cared for, or if a facility is accredited or regulated.
6. Are animal sanctuaries better than zoos?
The biggest difference between a zoo and sanctuary is that a sanctuary is where animals are rescued rather than bred. Unlike zoos, animals aren’t kept in small enclosures, but have larger areas to roam. While you may think all zoos are unethical, both zoos and wildlife sanctuaries spread awareness about wildlife and educate the public about animals.
7. How can I help wildlife conservation or animal sanctuaries?
Taking care of the world’s wildlife is everyone’s responsibility. Think about your your consumption habits. Think about reducing your plastic use, and recycle. Or maybe join an environmental project. Research a cause that inspires you. Maybe you like sea turtles and want to raise awareness or do a fundraiser.