Wildlife Heritage Areas

Exciting news: Our first certified Wildlife Heritage Areas!

We are thrilled to announce our first certified Wildlife Heritage Areas, showcasing a commitment to ethical wildlife tourism and conservation. These areas, meeting high standards for animal welfare and sustainable community engagement, serve as inspiring examples of how we can harmoniously coexist with nature. Discover these unique destinations below.

Explore the Wildlife Heritage Areas

Wildlife Heritage Areas are places where a deep and respectful connection exists between a guardian community and a wild species, species group, or habitat. 

In the last few decades, the travel industry has relied heavily on zoos, aquariums, and cruel wildlife experiences like elephant riding and trophy hunting for ‘animal entertainment’ tourism. Fortunately, public attitudes are changing, and that form of revenue is finally in decline across much of the world. There is now a growing demand for nature-based tourism. 

As animal welfare and sustainable tourism move up the priority list of the travelling public, tour operators and destination managers are increasingly looking for suppliers and destinations that tick the boxes of animal welfare, wildlife conservation, sustainability, and community engagement. Yet although there are many different types of protected areas for wildlife worldwide, the travel industry currently has no means of identifying the wildlife sites that are meeting high standards mentioned above while also maintaining high tourism value. 

World Animal Protection’s Wildlife Heritage Network aims to help resolve this through its innovative certification program that creates Wildlife Heritage Areas.  

The approach of the Wildlife Heritage Network is to highlight destinations championing responsible wildlife tourism by highlighting and resourcing local communities who are protecting the animals and ecosystems with which they are intrinsically linked.  

What is a Wildlife Heritage Area? 

As part of the Wildlife Heritage Network, Wildlife Heritage Areas are places where a deep and respectful connection exists between a guardian community and a wild species, species group, or habitat. 

Modelled after the World Cetacean Alliance’s successful Whale Heritage Sites, which we support to protect dolphins, whales, and porpoises, Wildlife Heritage Areas seek to:  

  • Highlight and resource local people to care for and protect wildlife in their environment;
  • Provide a clear marker that moves the travel industry to promote sustainable wildlife-friendly experiences as an alternative to exploitative wild animal attractions;
  • Highlight local knowledge and cultural links with nature as a very powerful tool to encourage positive change for animals and people;
  • Use an approach that combines nature conservation and animal welfare successfully, as part of a growing movement.

Accreditation requirements 

Our aim with the Wildlife Heritage Network is to identify outstanding destinations for responsible wildlife watching tourism alongside successful animal welfare and nature conservation outcomes.  The end goal is to ensure that wildlife, ecosystems, and human communities can not only survive, but thrive in tandem. 

The Wildlife Heritage Network certification program is planned to model the Whale Heritage Site accreditation and will aim to offer locally relevant expert guidance to help achieve fair and effective nature conservation, high quality animal welfare, sustainable practices, and responsible wildlife tourism in places where communities have a strong connection with nature through their cultural heritage. 

The Wildlife Heritage Network ensures high and improving standards of animal welfare in recognition of sentience. Wildlife Heritage Areas are bound by the principle that each site adopts an attitude of respect towards the focal species, species group, or habitat for which a Wildlife Heritage Area is designated. 

The Wildlife Heritage Network delivers grass-roots empowerment within a framework that encourages an ever more respectful relationship between people and wildlife, overcoming language, religious, political, and other site-specific challenges in the process. That is a brave and necessary approach. As the window of opportunity to protect the world’s wildlife from suffering and loss narrows every day, the need to listen to and properly resource the people on the frontline protecting wildlife in their local communities grows stronger by the hour. In the Wildlife Heritage Network we have a global program that can meet that need. 

Certified Wildlife Heritage Areas

Discover the places where wildlife and communities thrive together in harmony. Our certified Wildlife Heritage Areas are not just destinations; they are powerful stories of resilience, respect, and coexistence. Click on the links to learn more about each area and plan your responsible visit.

Monkeys in the trees in the Amazon Night Monkey Heritage Area in Peru.
Amazon Night Monkey Heritage Area
Primates in the trees in the Amazon Uakari Heritage Area in Brazil
Amazon Uakari Heritage Area
A bear wanders through the trees in the Apennines Marsican Bear Heritage Area in Italy.
Apennines Marsican Bear Heritage Area
An aerial view of the sea waters in the Whitsundays, a Whale Heritage Area
Whitsundays Whale Heritage Area
Dolphins swim and jump across the waves in the Santa Barbara Channel Whale Heritage Area in the USA
Santa Barbara Channel Whale Heritage Area
A landscape photo of the tall mountains and seas of the Madeira Whale Heritage Area situated in Madeira Island, Portugal.
Madeira Whale Heritage Area
Sunrise hits the bay in the Plettenberg Bay Whale Heritage Area in South Africa.
Plettenberg Bay Whale Heritage Area
A whale breaches the waters in Algoa Bay, South Africa.
Algoa Bay Whale Heritage Area