Born out of the success of the original Whale Heritage Sites programme, Wildlife Heritage Areas sets a new global benchmark for responsible wildlife tourism and community conservation.
Ever since Hervey Bay and The Bluff became the first Whale Heritage Sites in 2019, more communities around the world have been empowered to join and have their destinations formally recognised as outstanding places to see whales and dolphins responsibly in the wild.
Today, the World Cetacean Alliance (WCA) and World Animal Protection are taking the next step by launching a new programme, Wildlife Heritage Areas, which adopts the community-led model of Whale Heritage Sites and expands it to include all wildlife on land and at sea.
Whale Heritage Sites will now be known as Whale Heritage Areas: one type of Wildlife Heritage Area, where the focal species are cetaceans. Examples of other types currently include the Amazon Night Monkey Heritage Area on the Peru/Colombia border, and the Apennines Marsican Bear Heritage Area in Italy.
The WCA will support local communities who apply to become aspiring, candidate or designated Whale Heritage Areas, as well as continuing to partner with existing Whale Heritage Areas across the globe and supporting the wider Wildlife Heritage Area network.
Harry Eckman, CEO of the WCA, said: “Wildlife Heritage Areas are an exciting and perfect evolution of the WCA’s successful Whale Heritage Site programme. Wildlife Heritage Areas will provide the communities with a unique opportunity to showcase and celebrate their heritage and connection to amazing species and environments, and will provide tourists with an incredible opportunity to experience wildlife in the most inspiring ways.”
Nick Stewart, Wildlife Campaign Director at World Animal Protection, said: “We’re delighted to have co-founded Wildlife Heritage Areas as a solution to exploitative wildlife tourism. We invite travel companies around the world to drop the elephant rides, ditch the dolphin shows and any of the other demeaning wildlife entertainment experiences out there and instead, get behind truly responsible wildlife tourism that meets the needs of local communities, visitors and of course wild animal welfare.”
Header photo of humpback whale breaching at Algoa Bay Whale Heritage Area by Lloyd Edwards/WCA Partner Raggy Charters.