The impact of tourism on gibbons: developing best practice guidelines from case studies in Cambodia and China
Nature-based tourism can be a useful conservation tool in regions of high biodiversity value if based on scientific research. Despite the existence of several gibbon focused programmes, there has been little investigation into the impact of tourist presence on the behaviour and/or stress of the gibbons. The aim of my PhD has been to produce the first set of best practice guidelines for gibbon tourism using data collected on the northern yellow-cheeked crested gibbon (Nomascus annamensis) at Veun Sai-Siem Pang National Park (VSSPNP) and the Skywalker hoolock gibbon (Hoolock tianxing) at Mt. Gaoligong National Nature Reserve (GNNR), China. We have taken a multidisciplinary approach. In addition to collecting behaviour and faecal cortisol samples from wild habituated gibbons, I surveyed tourists who visited the sites and interviewed local community members at VSSPNP. This approach has allowed us to determine the response of the gibbons to tourists and to place the tourism programs within the local socio-economic environments. As the tourism industry recovers following the COVID-19 pandemic, the guidelines we have produced will help both existing and new gibbon tourism programmes to establish realistic stakeholder expectations and secure the welfare of the gibbons.
About the speaker
Jess is a PhD candidate at the ANU in primatology whose current research is focused on gibbons in Cambodia and China. She is passionate about conservation and working on the interface between humans and nature to find ways to support the welfare of people, animals and ecosystems. Jess has thoroughly enjoyed working with primates in Asia but hopes to apply her skillset to conservation efforts in Australia at the completion of her PhD.
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Dr Justyna Miszkiewicz Justyna.Miszkiewicz@anu.edu.au