Wildlife conservation and caring for animals is proving increasingly important as growing global populations use more resources and exploit land, but there are increasing efforts to save animals and preserve the habitat they need to live in, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
It said a priority is preserving Thailand's remaining forest cover and returning some developed areas back to a wild state.
About 3000 wild elephants live in sanctuaries and national parks in different parts of Thailand and their population is increasing. The number of domesticated elephants is also about 3000.
Large wild areas are needed for them to thrive, and there is renewed focus, according to TAT. To counter poaching, the government plans a database of every domesticated elephant's genetic information in an effort to stop poachers from taking wild baby elephants and claiming them as offspring of domesticated elephants. The government is also scrutinising elephant camps for any mistreatment of pachyderm.
The Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC) has been caring for elephants in a forested area south of Chiang Mai since 1993. Conservation is the key, and TECC operates an onsite elephant hospital and manages a mobile clinic. It teaches tourists to appreciate elephants and has pioneered conservation and science.
Through human-elephant interaction people learn to respect and practice responsible elephant tourism.
It has an natural breeding program and shares its knowledge and extensive library housed in the National Elephant Institute of Thailand on the site.
Phang Nga Elephant Park, a family-run eco-business just north of Phuket, offers a unique experience to visitors. The elephants are treated with respect: no dancing and circus tricks. Public awareness about elephants is the aim. Through human-elephant interaction people learn to respect and practice responsible elephant tourism.
And it is not just elephants that the Thais are working to conserve. The Bird Conservation Society of Thailand, founded in 1953, is perhaps the country's oldest conservation NGO. It organises field trips and projects to conserve birds and bird sanctuaries.
Conservation in several forms is on display next door in Cambodia, where Shinta Mani Wild's luxury adventures include exploring the waterways of South East Asia's last wild estuarine ecosystem aboard a custom Bensley-designed expedition boat, or joining Wildlife Alliance rangers on anti-poaching patrols. Its menus are inspired by sustainably foraged wild edible plants, as the camp's naturalists guide guests through the forest to discover - and taste - Cambodia's natural larder.
Bensley Collection - Shinta Mani Wild aims to nurture its natural environment through partnerships with respected conservation organisations.
Closer to home
Combining volunteering with tourism can be a great way to get a more hands-on experience with sustainability and conservation.
Cooberrie Park Wildlife Sanctuary, about 15 minutes from Yeppoon on Queensland's Capricorn Coast, welcomes visitors from all over the world attracted by the opportunity to cuddle koalas, hold crocodiles, snakes and lizards, play with birds, interact with monkeys and hand-feed kangaroos.
Aside from a mandatory smile and friendly hello, your duties will include animal food preparation, wildlife presentations, and handling and cleaning during your time at the sanctuary.
Or if sustainable agriculture and living is more your interest, the nearby High Valley Dawn Permaculture Farm opened in 2016 with the intention to create a self-sustaining community that would inspire future generations to get back to working in harmony with nature.
The Farm serves fresh, local, organically grown produce to their local nearby dining venue, Beaches Restaurant, which has designed its menu to use the natural, chemical free ingredients.
As well as hosting a small but growing community of volunteers, the farm is also home to many free-ranging animals including horses, ducks, chickens, cattle, sheep, two dogs, a pig and a goat.