I’ve just heard that the WCS Laos program and several partners have set up a great project that takes people on night boat rides and then pays the community according the number of mammals seen. Sounds like a brilliant idea to me – lets hope it catches on. I’m attaching the blurb that came with the email. The species list is a bit generic, but it gives a sense of what can be seen. I’ll try to find out more about current sighting success from the project members.
‘WCS’s Nam Nern Night Safari has been short-listed for the People’s Choice World Responsible Tourism Award this year. The Night Safari is an innovative community-based ecotour developed by the WCS in cooperation with the Government of Lao PDR and 14 partner communities. Longtail river boats take guests upstream in the afternoon, and after a riverside dinner, the boats float downstream at night without engines to spot wildlife including sambar deer and various species of civets. Other species seen include barking deer, otter, tiger tracks, Asian golden cat, dhole, sun bear, python, loris, Chinese serow, hog badger, porcupine, spotted Linsang, wild pig, and macaques. This is perhaps the only place in the country where tourists can see these species in the wild.
The tour provides direct incentives for wildlife conservation by linking the revenue earned by the 14 partner communities with the numbers of wildlife seen and recorded by tourists during each tour. The proceeds directly fund forest patrols, conservation education, schools, and small village-based economic development programs. As wildlife sightings increase, more locals view conservation as an active and profitable partnership. Local villagers also work as guides, boatmen, cooks, and handicraft producers.
The project with the most votes wins, so please vote and spread the word: http://www.responsibletravel.com/awards/peopleschoice.htm.’