Scenic Rim ecotour operator and Griffith University wildlife researcher Dr Ronda Green has been commissioned by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.
She will present a talk at a UNWTO symposium in Fiji today on climate change, biodiversity and sustainable tourism and lead a panel with government and UN members on sustainable tourism in UNESCO designated sites.
Two months ago Dr Green, chair of both the national association Wildlife Tourism Australia and the Scenic Rim branch of Wildlife Queensland, conducted two sessions of wildlife tour guide training and presented a talk to tourism representatives and operators in Borneo.
Founder and owner of the Sukau Rainforest Lodge in Sabah, Mr Albert Teo, has been using Dr Green’s book Wildlife Tourism: A Handbook for Guides, Tour Operators, Job-seekers and Business Start-ups for training his guides over the past couple of years.
The lodge has been named one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World.
Mr Teo offered her a free four-day wildlife experience including three nights at the lodge, visits to wildlife destinations and a number of wildlife-viewing excursions in small boats on the Kinabatangan River in return for providing some in-person training to his guides while there.
Dr Green said the Sukau Rainforest Lodge was an excellent example of ecotourism, providing protection to forest and wildlife, benefiting the local community by hiring and training local people boosting the local economy and offering high-quality education for visitors.
“We saw far more wildlife than expected, even having an orangutan and her baby feeding and nesting in a tree near our cabin, and seeing many proboscis monkeys (unique to Borneo), several other monkey species, several squirrel species including giant squirrel and flying squirrel, flying “lemurs” (not really lemurs), many hornbills, colourful kingfishers and much more,” she said.
“There could be a lot more tourism between our two countries, as Australia and Malaysia are near neighbours, and both very rich in wildlife but have such very different wildlife.”