The international union for conservation of nature (IUCN) currently recommends a minimum distance of 10m between tourists and Great Apes. Not adhering to this can increase the risk of disease transmission but currently little research has evaluated the prevalence with which tourists adhere to these guidelines. This study focused on the site of Bukit Lawang in Gunung Leuser National Park, Indonesia, a popular destination for seeing Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii) , which are currently listed as critically endangered. A study in 2014 asserted that IUCN guidelines need to be enforced at this site. Photos from the top ten wildlife tour companies in this area were analysed on Trip advisor to find the percentage of photos in which tourists were in close contact with orangutans. Photos in which tourists were less than 10m from orangutans were found for nine out of ten tour companies. I compared the least and most recent photos (an average period of around 5 years) and found no marked change since the previous study in 2014. I also looked at whether having a clear policy on the tour companies website was related to the prevalence of close contact photos, with some suggestion that it may decrease the prevalence of close contact photos observed. I end by making recommendations for improved regulation of these guidelines in light of the COVID19 pandemic.
Permanent link to this resource: https://doi.org/10.24384/9e0r-6771
Faculty of Humanities and Social SciencesDepartment of Social Sciences
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