A spectacular new trail launched by the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust is set to showcase Scotland’s west coast as a world-class destination for spotting whales, dolphins and porpoises from land and champion conservation of the Hebrides globally important marine wildlife and environment.
The Hebridean Whale Trail, first of its kind in the UK, is a unique initiative connecting more than 30 top places offering opportunities for land-based sightings of whales, dolphins and porpoises, or showcasing important whale heritage sites that reveal the history of people’s relationships with whales in these communities.
Bottlenose dolphin in Tobermory harbour
Basking sharks, seals and other wildlife may also be seen from the trail, which features 33 sites across the Hebridean archipelago and along Scotland’s west coast, from the Clyde to Cape Wrath and St Kilda. These include lighthouses at the Butt of Lewis on the Isle of Lewis, Eilean Glas on the Isle of Scalpay, the UK mainland’s most westerly point at Ardnamurchan Lighthouse, beaches at Clachtoll in the Highlands and Huisinis on the Isle of Harris and harbours at Tobermory and Ullapool.
The trail ranges from easily accessible attractions such as the Hebridean Whale Trail Centre in Tobermory to remote and wild destinations such as the Oa on Islay.
“Scotland’s west coast is one of Europe’s best places to catch sight of whales, dolphins and porpoises from land and you may see bottlenose and common dolphins, harbour porpoise, minke whales and killer whales,” said Karl Stevens, Hebridean Whale Trail Manager. “We want people from all walks of life to visit the Hebridean Whale Trail and enjoy exploring the region’s unique nature, culture and history and be inspired to support marine conservation.”
The aims are also to boost the local economy and support communities through sustainable eco-tourism, provide educational opportunities and improve connections between coastal areas.
David Adams McGilp, VisitScotland Regional Director said, “Scotland’s Hebrides offer captivating views, endless beaches, ancient history, the finest fresh food and wonderful wildlife. The Hebridean Whale Trail is a clever initiative which presents visitors with an unrivalled opportunity to explore the best of Scotland’s marine wildlife and seascapes. The launch of this new trail is particularly apt as we prepare for the Year of Coasts and Waters 2020, a year-long programme of events and activities. It’s particularly pleasing that the trail is a conservation-based tourism product, as a key focus of the themed year will be celebrating and protecting Scotland’s beautiful natural environment.”
The trail’s website includes routes, transport options and site details. On-site interpretation at key locations will explain which species of cetaceans might be seen. Across the trail there will be many opportunities for visitors and residents to get involved in marine conservation activities, including joining volunteers to watch, identify and record marine wildlife from land or the ferries which connect the sites, as well as discovering more about Scotland’s seas from experts at a range of visitor centres.
“The trail encourages accessible, low-impact whale-watching from land, which for many is a completely new way of thinking about viewing marine wildlife. Scotland’s west coast is dotted with stunning places where you can quietly watch whales, dolphins and other wildlife going about their business from a clifftop or harbour,” said Alison Lomax, Director of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust. “Ultimately we want people to experience the thrill of watching a fin breaking the surface in the distance and the challenge of identifying which type of whale they’ve seen, sharing that experience with others and learning about the threats these animals face in our seas”
While sightings of cetaceans can never be guaranteed, the Hebridean seas are exceptionally rich in wildlife. More than a quarter of the world’s whale and dolphin species have been recorded in the region including many national and international conservation priority species.
The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust is based on the Isle of Mull and has been taking action for the conservation of cetaceans off western Scotland for over two decades.
Birdfair, which runs from Friday 16 to Sunday 18 August in Rutland addresses some big issues of the day, including climate change and wildlife decline.
-Come along for three days of wildlife talks and events
-Shop for nature watching gear, tours and other wildlife themed treats
-Get top tips to kick start your conservation career
On Friday evening join Chris Packham, Carrie Symonds, Deborah Meaden, Hannah Stitfall, Isabella Tree, Philip Lymbery and Tony Juniper for a Question Time session looking at the current state of wildlife, chaired by Dominic Dyer. Simon King’s talk on living lighter will look at how we can change the world one step at a time.
On Saturday the UK’s biggest wildlife event also offers opportunities for visitors to discover how to take the first steps in various careers. Hear how a range of passionate conservationists got started and get expert advice to polish up your CV.
Birdfair visitors can also look forward to fun quiz sessions including Would I Fly To You and Bird Brain of Britain hosted by Stephen Moss, Iolo Williams’ talk on Life before Telly and Angie and Jonathan Scott’s Big Cat Tales. Other treats in store include Birdfair’s popular wildlife cruises on Rutland Water, Bird Photographer of the Year Awards with Chris Packham and a production of The Lion King for families. Birdfair will welcome 45 new exhibitors and caterers.
Birdfair founder and manager Tim Appleton said, "There’s really something for everyone this year. Whether you’re a Birdfair regular or a first time visitor, this is going to be a fantastic three days. And it’s worth remembering that everyone visiting is making a real difference by contributing towards wildlife conservation projects."
Each year Birdfair raises vital funds for conservation across the planet through entry ticket sales and a charity auction. This year’s event will fund raise for BirdLife International’s Conserving Cambodia's Big Five project. This project will benefit Western Siem Pang Wildlife Sanctuary, a forest in the Mekong basin that stretches across the border between Cambodia and Laos. The site is notable for its unusually high concentration of Critically Endangered species; five in total, including the towering Giant Ibis and White-shouldered Ibis and three declining vulture species: White-rumped, Slender-billed and Red-headed.
This globally important site is in dire need of protection to protect its habitat from threats such as unsustainable hunting and deforestation; this year’s project will help secure its future by scaling up existing work with local farmers to develop eco-friendly practices to improve fortunes of the site’s wildlife and those who live on its borders.
Birdfair is jointly promoted by Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust and the RSPB. The event is held at Rutland Water Nature Reserve which is cared for by Leicestershire & Rutland Wildlife Trust in partnership with Anglian Water. A spectacular wetland, it provides one of the most important wildfowl sanctuaries in the UK, regularly holding in excess of 25,000 waterfowl. The Birdfair entry ticket covers all daytime events: separate tickets can be purchased for evening events and cruises. Parking is free. Tickets are available here: Birdfair
photo: Giant Ibis credit Jonathan Eames
photo: Chris Packham credit Terry Bagley .
Stories from the Frontline of Elephant Conservation
As a conservation driven organisation, African Bush Camps promote and influence African travel on a global scale while operating with an environmentally sustainable footprint. Employing an ethos that strives to empower local communities in the areas in which they operate, a strong focus on conservation is at the heart of their operation. How Many Elephants has a simple mission. Stop the poaching of African elephants. Simple but critical. Every day, 96 elephants are killed for their ivory. That is 35,000 of these magnificent, gentle, intelligent animals a year.
Headline Speaker: Holly Budge Adventurer | Conservationist | Designer
Holly will share her adventurous fundraising tales from her journey to Everest to immersing herself with the Black Mambas, an all-female front line anti-poaching team in South Africa. Holly founded 'How Many Elephants', a design-led campaign, to inspire and educate a global audience about the impact of the elephant ivory trade. To date, she has raised over £300k for charity.
Headline Speaker: Dr. Niall McCann National Geographic Explorer | Conservationist | Biologist
Niall is the Director of Conservation for National Park Rescue, a direct-action conservation organisation that focuses on preventing the slaughter of elephants, rhinos and lions in sub-Saharan Africa. Niall presented award-winning documentary Lost in the Amazon and two seasons of the multi award-winning Biggest and Baddest.
Bonus Speaker: Beks Ndlovu Professional Guide | Founder of African Bush Camps
Through African Bush Camps and their foundation, Beks became not only a tour operator but a social entrepreneur and is proving to be one of the most enterprising and inspiring players in the Tourism Industry, one who continues to promote and influence African travel on a global scale.
Proceeds from the evening go to the How Many Elephants Campaign which supports National Park
Rescue and Victoria Falls Wildlife Trust in Zimbabwe and the Black Mambas in South Africa.
“An impactful campaign which highlights the need to end the killing of Africa's elephants by reducing the demand for ivory.” Tusk
About How Many Elephants:
The 'How Many Elephants' Campaign uses design as a powerful visual communication tool to raise global awareness of the devastating impacts of the African elephant crisis. Few people know that 96 African elephants are poached daily for their ivory. At this astonishing rate they will be extinct in the wild within a decade.
The multi award-winning, design-led campaign is hard-hitting in the way it showcases 35,000 elephant silhouettes, the current annual poaching rate in Africa, in a striking exhibition. Every day for a year, a square of 96 elephants is posted depicting the daily poaching rate to show the sheer scale of the poaching crisis. Gruesome images of mutilated elephants have been purposely avoided. To actually see and connect with this data visually is highly impactful.
About African Bush Camps
African Bush Camps is a private, owner-run African-based safari company that speaks to the art of service and offers you an authentic safari experience in the untamed African wilderness. Focused on your experience as our guest, our professional guides and nature enthusiasts will be on hand to ensure your journey with African Bush Camps is the very best safari experience imaginable.
How Many Elephants
World Endangered Species Day doesn't have to be limited to one day. Always choose #responsibletourism to help protect the animals of our environment.
Music: 'Acoustic Breeze' from Bensound.com Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives
So-called ‘tortoiseshell’ is made from turtle shells, more specifically from critically endangered hawksbill turtles. International trade in tortoiseshell is illegal, according to CITES. However, hawksbill turtles continue to be hunted, particularly in the Caribbean, where their shells are used to make trinkets sold in souvenir shops. Buying turtle shell is as socially unacceptable as buying ivory or rhino horn.
Photo by Hal Brindley - travelforwildlife.com
Consumers need to stop buying these items. Let sellers know it is illegal (in most places) and immoral to contribute to the extinction of a species. When sellers learn that selling turtleshell will reduce their business, they will stop selling them and turtle hunters will no longer have a market for their products. Travellers can learn how to recognise and avoid these products by visiting TooRareToWear. Please also see Responsible Travel website for information and updates on this and other important issues.
Photo by Julie Suess
I'm Gilly, award winning journalist, travel writer and author of 11 books. My byline appears in national and regional newspapers and magazines. See website gillypickup.co.uk