It takes many years of practice to fine-tune your wildlife-viewing skills; hours upon hours of patient sitting and walking sessions to learn some of Mother Nature’s more subtle communication skills. Growing up and living off the forest helps — that’s why hiring a native guide will guarantee you more sightings than going it on your own.
The following Wildlife Viewing Guidelines guidelines are derived from the International Ecotourism Society and are courtesy of the American Crocodile Education Sanctuary (ACES). They are intended to help you enjoy watching wildlife without causing them harm or placing one’s personal safety at risk.
Keep your distance. International policy is to remain at least 100 yards from all protected wildlife species, and time spent observing animals should be limited to avoid causing stress.
Never harass the wildlife. If your presence disturbs an animal from its activity, then you are harassing that animal. No animal should ever be encircled or trapped; this includes between boats, or between a boat and shore. If you are approached by an animal, allow it to pass and do not obstruct its path of travel. Boaters are to put their engine in neutral. Causing an animal to move from an area, or flee, may result in an unsuccessful mating or aborted nesting. This can lead to a species’ extinction.
Hands off. Do not touch or interact with wild animals. Wildlife can behave unpredictably and may transmit disease. Handling any protected species without a scientific permit is illegal.
Do not feed wildlife. Attempting to attract wildlife with food disrupts normal feeding cycles and may cause sickness or death from unnatural or contaminated food items. Offering wildlife any food products, including discarded waste, is prohibited.
Help keep wildlife habitats clean. Please pick up all trash. Garbage, particularly plastic, is one of the greatest threats to wildlife, which may view the garbage item as food or become entangled.