Want to get involved? Here are some ideas
Volunteer locally, helping plant trees, do clean-ups, help at an animal rescue, or do some citizen science.
There are organizations in most cities that work in conservation- contact them and see how you can get involved. Just make sure that you are volunteering for an ethical company by doing your research. For instance, if you volunteer with a big cat rescue, they shouldn't allow contact with the adult cats.
You can also volunteer while you're on vacation! Many conservation organizations rely on the help of volunteers to keep running. Make sure you do your research before you decide on an organization to make sure they are running an ethical business (see some tips below).
Tourism in some areas actually supports conservation on its own! For instance, the money you spend going on safari in Africa (with a reputable company) actually pays for the protection and conservation of those wild areas and the animals in them.
Share the message
Share with others why certain animals are interesting or important for the ecosystem. Get others to love them as well!
Share ideas about how to live more sustainably, or where other people can get involved in your community.
Get involved with citizen science:
Photograph wildlife or plants anywhere and upload them to the iNaturalist website or app.
Join the Christmas Bird Count with the Audubon Society.
Help measure night brightness to raise awareness about light pollution with Globe at Night.
Help monitor water quality with EarthEcho Water Challenge.
Join a survey in North America to monitor frogs and toads.
Help in a one day butterfly count within Canada, U.S., and Mexico.
If you are in Delaware or New Jersey, help count horseshoe crabs during spawning season.
Help monitor coral bleaching and invasive marine species if you live in Hawaii.
If you hike in the states from Maine to Virginia, take a photo from a mountain view to help study air quality and haze pollution.
Map mosquito habitat, photograph clouds, or photograph trees to determine their height for NASA.
Give your support to the right places
Remember how influential social media is. Don't follow people, or like photos where people are behaving irresponsibly. For instance, people post wildlife interactions like sloth selfies, or sitting with tigers, or riding elephants. Once you know these are bad behaviors to support, you shouldn't encourage others by liking those photos.
If you are looking for a more up close wildlife interaction, there are ethical ways to do it!One way is to visit an AZA Zoo, and sign up for one of their behind-the-scenes encounters. These zoos support conservation activities, and should be caring well for the animals, so your money is going to a good place.
There are also other organizations, such as rescue centers, where you can visit animals. When you visit these places, remember to ask questions first. Specifically "what does your organization do to support conservation in the wild?" Make sure you are supporting conservation, and not a breeding facility.
Throw a fundraiser
Pick a conservation charity that means a lot to you. Then throw a fundraiser to raiser money for them. Get creative! Design and sell t-shirts. Do a bake sale. Host a party and charge admission. Just let people know that all proceeds are going to your charity. And share on our social media! We love to see community involvement!
How to be a responsible tourist:
Do your research - many places deceitfully advertise themselves as "sanctuaries", or say they are breeding for conservation. All experiences will be advertised as ethical since they are trying to conceal the suffering of the animals, so make sure the organization can provide ample data on how they support conservation. You support activities to continue by giving your money to organizations, so give your money to the good ones.
Tour companies that take you in the wild should maintain safe distances from animals to avoid influencing their behavior. Similarly, they should not be feeding animals to bait them into an interaction.
Avoid an animal experience that has animals in chains or small cages, or where the animal puts on a performance. This is torture for the animal.
Give them their space: Do not ride or hold wild animals. Also, don't pay to take a photo with a wild animal because it will involve a local baiting or stealing the animal from their habitat and likely puts you and/or the animal in danger. For example, tigers are drugged so tourists can pet them. Lions are bred so tourists can cuddle the cubs and then once the cubs grow up they are killed. Elephants are tortured until they are tame enough to allow people to ride them. Sloths are stolen for tourists to photograph, but the stress kills the sloth.
Buy souvenirs with mindfulness: Do not buy anything made from body parts like teeth, claws, pelts, coral, or turtle shell since animals had to be killed to make them. Instead, support local communities by buying something like locally made crafts.
Consider your meal with care: Do not be lured into a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to eat exotic meats like whale or bear.
Be social media savvy: Do not "like" or post photos of holding, riding, or petting wild animals, as it promotes unethical behavior. Instead spread positive messages!
Here are some excellent charities to donate to, volunteer for, or visit:
The Sloth Conservation Foundation
A non-profit in Costa Rica dedicated to saving sloths in the wild through research and conservation initiatives.
Elephant Nature Park
An organization in Northern Thailand that rescues and rehabilitates elephants (as well as dogs, cats, buffalo & other species). You can volunteer with the elephants during a visit as well.
Cheetah Conservation Fund
An organization in Namibia that helps save cheetahs and conserve their ecosystem.
David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust
An organization in Kenya that rescues orphaned elephants and other wildlife. They also provide veterinary care for injured wildlife, provide water to wildlife for relief during droughts, and has anti-poaching services.
An organization dedicated to the conservation of all 40 of the world's wild cat species and their ecosystems.
Snow Leopard Trust
This organization finds ways for snow leopards to coexist with the communities they share habitats with.
Kibale Chimpanzee Project
The Kibale Chimpanzee Project aims to support the conservation of chimpanzees. They also work to increase the income of local communities to reduce the destruction of the rainforest.
This organization raises awareness and supports conservation for pangolins- the world's most trafficked animals.
Koala Hospital Port Macquarie
A non-for-profit organization in Australia that cares for injured and sick koalas, and releases them back into their natural habitat. They also plant trees and put out water stations to support koalas survival in the wild.
California Wolf Center
A conservation facility in San Diego that aims to return wolves to the wild. Their facility houses and breeds Mexican gray wolves and North American gray wolves. They reintroduce the Mexican gray wolves into the wild, one of several organizations that have brought the species from a mere 13 individuals to over 400. They also host educational tours, and work with ranchers to support coexistence.