Conservation Partners – Our #FlywayPromise

The Inglorious Bustards have a challenge!  As conservationists, we are only too aware of the environmental impact of the activities associated with our business.  We want to share with you the joy of watching wildlife all along the East Atlantic Flyway, but in doing so we inevitably encourage consumption of the planet’s resources. Our challenge as a responsible ecotourism operator is to ensure that our activities can be channelled into a positive outcome for the environment.  We want to make sure that, when you travel with us, you´ll be benefitting, not exploiting the wildlife we see together.  On our trips, “eco-tourism” is a promise, not an oxymoron.

We have conservation in our hearts and we care about the things you care about! That is why we try to link our ecotourism to conservation and wider sustainable societal gains wherever possible.

We will be continually adding new connections, networks and partners to this page as we find new and exciting ways of ensuring conservation remains at the very heart of everything we do. We will continually share expertise with other individuals and organisations to achieve real measurable benefits for Nature.

Want to see what we mean?! We were proud and delighted to provide logistical support for the production of this uplifting short film, showing how SEO and GREPOMBirdlife International‘s Spanish and Moroccan partners – are working in Morocco to pull the Northern Bald Ibis back from the brink of extinction…

Our Conservation Partners

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The Migres Foundation are a private non-profit, scientific and cultural foundation, oriented to the preservation and enhancement of natural heritage in The Straits of Gibraltar.

They perform research and awareness programs, develop advanced training activities and environmental education, organise conferences and all kinds of national and international meetings, and encourage activities promoting sustainable local development and Nature tourism in general.

Fundación Migres manages a long-term monitoring program of bird migration through The Straits of Gibraltar based on standardised constant-effort protocols. Every year they run daily migration counts, always using the same observatories and schedule.

Based on this information, they are able to calculate abundance indices that reflect the actual number of birds on migration, allowing them to monitor changes in their populations and migratory patterns. The origin of the program dates back to 1997 (soaring birds) and 2001 (seabirds), and is currently one of the greatest sustained efforts for monitoring migratory birds in Europe.

We work closely with Fundación Migres assisting with monitoring, fundraising and promotional activities using our wealth of experience gained whilst working for the RSPB – as well as volunteering for the count whenever we possibly can!

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“The fork is the most powerful tool to change the planet.”

Our work over decades for the RSPB attempting to reverse the fortunes of both UK and European farmland wildlife has made us recognise the power of food choice and how it can affect the plight of declining species. This is why we teamed up with the Tarifa Ecocenter.

The Ecocenter is a local hub in Tarifa for eco-consciousness, thinking globally and acting locally. Their organic vegetarian restaurant and pizzeria is a great social meeting place where you can share delicious food and enjoy sustainably-sourced produce from their organic, wildlife-friendly farm here in The Straits. We work in partnership to offer visitors an experience around food choice and how positive change can help our wildlife and the wider environment.

Our picnic fruit and vegetables are now sourced from the Ecocenter, being grown locally on their farm.

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Marisma 21 is an organisation devoted to the restoration of the salt marshes in the Bay of Cadiz, on the south-western coast of Spain. They use artisanal salt production methods to aid the recovery and revitalisation of this important ecological area. This not only ensures the maintenance of the macro-flora in the salt pans – an important food source for migratory waders – but also enhances the local environment for aquatic salt-loving species.

This sympathetic management and hand-harvesting of the pans uses methods that have been in use since Roman and Phoenician times. It generates multiple benefits for wildlife, making it truly fair to nature. It also brings employment to the area in the form of salt workers and nature tourism.

The Inglorious Bustards will continue to promote nature-friendly salt products to clients (even including it in our legendary picnics!) and link salt production to eco-tourism wherever possible through the development of new and exciting tours.

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Based at Kotu Creek, near Brufut, The Gambia Birdwatchers Association (GBA) was established in 2007.  It provides a headquarters for the area’s bird guides, trains the next generation of ornithologists, and carries out excellent project-based conservation work, including utilising local volunteers in the restoration of mangrove swamp habitat – a project we are proud to be funding since 2018.  In The Gambia, many important forests are community-owned, and GBA is instrumental in setting up community reserves, training bird guides in the villages and enabling them to benefit from the preservation of forest habitat through well-thought-out ecotourism. Inglorious Bustards work closely with GBA, giving project advice and consultation and supporting their high quality, objective-led work.

We think globally, we act locally

We believe that the first step to responsible ecotourism is eliminating any negative effects that our travel could potentially have on our surroundings.   During our tours, we work hard to minimise food and packaging waste.  We ask our clients to bring their own water bottles which are filled from taps or potable mountain springs.  In countries outside the EU where tap water is not drinkable, we buy large containers and decant into personal water bottles to reduce plastic waste.

In-country, we use modern, fuel-efficient vehicles to reduce emissions.  We know our areas well, so we are also able to apply careful route-planning to minimise driving distances between sites.

We choose our accommodation providers carefully to be small, locally-owned and eco-conscious, and work with them to continually evolve their own eco-credentials.

We continually research and offer advice guests on ways of arriving to our trip destination efficiently, and by land if possible.  Our focus on hosting trips along the glorious East Atlantic Flyway means that we are able to arrive at 90% of our tour destinations to meet you without boarding a flight ourselves.

What we can’t eliminate, we offset

Inglorious Bustards have pledged to balance unavoidable carbon emissions through World Land Trust‘s (WLT) Carbon Balanced Programme.

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Unlike some carbon-offsetting schemes, this is not simply a case of absolving guilt by shoving some trees in an ill-thought-out location!  WLT funds the purchase or lease of threatened land to create nature reserves, protecting both habitats and their wildlife.  By protecting and restoring threatened forest in key areas of conservation importance, CO₂ emissions are prevented and carbon storage enhanced.  To make projects like this work, this fore-sighted organisation includes, rather than excludes local communities.  It funds partner NGOs to employ local people as reserve rangers, sustainably managing some of the world’s most threatened habitats and the animals found within them.

We balance all the CO₂ emissions associated with any staff flights and all in-country travel and accommodation associated with our tours.  In 2018, we offset over 24 tonnes of CO₂, funds for which went directly to acquiring and preserving threatened forest habitat.  We also encourage our guests to offset your own holiday travel through WLT, which can be done directly through our booking form, allowing you to offset as you book your trip!

We encourage respectful wildlife-watching

For the prosperity of the species that we enjoy watching so much, and for our own ongoing enjoyment, it is imperative that we avoid disturbing the wildlife we are trying to see.

We never flush birds.  For ground-nesters such as the Moroccan Marsh Owl, we only offer trips outside the breeding season, and time our site visits to maximise the chance of finding the birds active rather than roosting.

We use fieldcraft to find passerines.  Usually with a little patience and listening, it is perfectly possible to find the bird you are looking for.  On the very rare occasions we choose to use a tape, we do so sensitively, always adhering to the guidelines published in the article “The Proper Use of Playback in Birding” by Sibley et al.

Where we work through other companies, for example for cetacean-watching boat trips or to look for Iberian Lynx, we only work with reputable firms who have non-intrusive wildlife-watching protocols in place.

We challenge the unethical

While we as individuals have no problem with sustainable subsistence hunting within local communities, we personally find hunting for so-called ‘sport’ abhorrent, and unsustainable trophy hunting completely unacceptable.  The hunting industry often seems to be out of control, able to damage ecosystems and illegally kill native wildlife  with impunity.  Of the thirty optics companies that were examined in the 2018 Ethical Consumer report entitled “Shooting Wildlife II”, 83% were found to specifically market to hunters as well as birders.  And a disappointing 13 of these actively glamorise trophy hunting in their promotional material, including targets like lions and bears.

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That’s why we’re proud to be ambassadors for Viking Optical – a British-based company which is one of only a handful of companies that produce high-quality optics solely for the wildlife-watching market.  They too have Nature at their heart and support a variety of conservation projects including being RSPB Species Champions for two critically endangered birds and long-time sponsors of the Birdfair.  We love the personal contact, trust and compassion involved in working with them.  They really put their optics where their mouth is, enabling us to loan binoculars to volunteers monitoring the raptor migration across The Straits of Gibraltar, to bird-watching newcomers, and to budding young Gambian ornithologists.

Supporting the next generation

Next Generation Birders was set up to provide an online as well as offline social community for young birders. We are proud to work with them to provide young birders opportunities for affordable foreign birding trips and opportunities for volunteering with other conservation partners.

Individuals actions we support

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The third Dove Step journey – an incredible on-foot crossing of Spain in aid of Turtle Dove conservation – was made in 2017.  Conservationist Jonny Rankin and his team walked from south to north across the country, completing back-to-back marathon distances each day.  This 700-mile odyssey started on Tarifa Beach and ended on the country’s north coast, looking out into the Bay of Biscay.

Inglorious Bustards were uniquely placed at the start of the journey to support this venture by assisting with logistics and publicity and providing accommodation in collaboration with our friends at Huerta Grande Eco-lodge.

Accreditation of sustainable ecotourism

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Blue Sky Wildlife offers a unique collection of established and award-winning tour operators and companies providing responsible ecotourism experiences and unique wildlife tours from around the world. Blue Sky Wildlife makes it easy to search through a variety of wildlife interests including birds, butterflies, dragonflies, mammals, reptiles, plants and wildflowers prior to contacting the wildlife tour operator and company directly.

This unique website was launched to assist in making Nature- and wildlife-lovers’ next wildlife experience as easy as possible. Visitors to the Blue Sky Wildlife website can easily search by species name, desired destination, type of tours, wildlife reviews and see a tour operator’s commitment to conservation and sustainable tourism.

Inglorious Bustards are proud be listed on Blue Sky Wildlife.  If you have been on a recent tour with us, we’d really appreciate it if you would complete a Wildlife Review on our behalf by visiting our listing page here.

We are also very proud to be listed on Terra Incognita Ethical Bird Tours List for 2018 and 2019.

Terra Incognita believe that ecotourism can be a powerful force for good in the world, and seek to promote the best examples of ecotourism worldwide.  They do this by collating lists of amazing tour providers who help conserve the environment, support local people and educate their guests.

The Terra Incognita community wants to ‘travel for good’. They help people get off the beaten path, have adventures, and be part of a movement that creates positive change for people and planet through travel.

Our Terra Incognita Ethical Bird Tours listing reflects our continued commitment to measurable conservation delivery across the East Atlantic Flyway through sustainable food choice, responsible and eco-conscious tour delivery, funding and support of local conservation partners and balancing of unavoidable carbon emissions. You can read our interview with Terra Incognita here.