Feb 07

Marching for an end to the domestic ivory trade in the UK

Come along with our vEco Ambassador, Ian Redmond, as he co-presents a petition to end the UK domestic ivory trade to 10 Downing Street. Recorded at the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos in London last year, this 360 video is especially relevant as the UK parliament just discussed this issue yesterday!

Dec 23

Announcing Gorilla Safari VR


Working with the Born Free Foundation, and in honor of longtime friend and colleague John Kahekwa, we’re very pleased to announce the release of Gorilla Safari VR, our latest vEcotour mobile app for Android and iOS.

This one begins at Born Free’s headquarters in England, with Mr. Kahekwa having just received the 2016 Prince William Award for Conservation in Africa, and then we leap over 6000km to join the Easter Lowland Gorilla patriarch, Chimanuka, in his native habitat in Kahuzi-Biega National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

This app works with both phones and tablets and with or without a virtual reality headset. Enjoy your Gorilla Safari!


To learn more about John Kahekwa and his community-based conservation initiative, the Pole Pole Foundation, click here.

To support Born Free and Pole Pole’s conservation efforts, join Born Free’s Adopt-A-Gorilla program!

Dec 01

Virtual field trip with vEcotours

vEcotours has entered the classroom once again, this time taking children from Walmore Hill Primary School in Gloucestershire, England on a virtual safari.

Our ambassador, naturalist Ian Redmond OBE, gave a natural history lesson to pupils, who were encouraged to think about elephants and what it may be like to be one.

In a workshop titled: ‘If I’d been born an elephant…’, vEcotourism.org was used to demonstrate the diverse habitats that elephants can live in, and was used to help children see through the eyes of an elephant, in preparation for the rest of the workshop, which included making elephant costumes and role-playing being baby elephants.


Mr Stevenson of Walmore Hill Primary School said: “Ian Redmond brought these magnificent animals to life for the children in a fun and educational way. Natural history is an important part of the curriculum and we are privileged to have Ian visit our school and inspire our children with such a vital environmental message.”


For more information visit: http://www.blakeneyschool.co.uk/Walmore_Hill/elephants.html

Nov 16

Praise for vEcotourism.org from the United Nations’ Great Apes Surival Partnership!

Some very kind words about vEco from Doug Cress, Programme Coordinator for the United Nations’ Great Apes Survival Partnership! If you’ve got a VR headset, give apeAPP VR a spin on your Android or Apple smartphone 🙂



Aug 24

Welcome, Members and Fellows of the Royal Geographical Society

Geographical2016_mainWelcome Members and Fellows of the Royal Geographical Society, and other readers of the September issue of the Geographical Magazine special issue on Extinction! Please find below a selection of links to “virtual ecotours” of species mentioned in Ian Redmond’s article.

Read the rest of this entry »

Aug 12

Welcome National Geographic Readers!

vEcotours Ambassador Ian Redmond re-lives the moment he was charged by a four-tonne elephant in a new article for National Geographic.

“There is some irony in this – that the person who coined the term ‘elefriends’ should be trampled by a decidedly unfriendly elephant – but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t personal,” Ian jokes, as he recalls the unexpected encounter at Mount Elgon Forest Reserve, which took place earlier this year.

Ian, who caught the charge on film, was visiting Kenya in April to watch President Kenyatta of Kenya and President Bongo of Gabon set fire to 105 tonnes of ivory — Kenya’s largest ever ivory stockpile burn. After the burn he joined the Mount Elgon Elephant Monitoring Team — the MEEM Team, made up of local community trackers and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers — to check up on the elephant population of Mt Elgon, which is best-known for its underground salt-mining habits!


Read the rest of this entry »

Aug 08

Teaching school students with vEco virtual reality

Jay giving a lesson on vEcotours

Here at vEcotours, we’ve taken our first leap into the classroom, trialling a new “kid’s version” of our Mount Elgon virtual reality tour for a special lesson at Cambridge Elementary School, Vermont.

The demo used our new app, which is available for both iOS and Android, with a special new narration, voiced by youngsters Erica and Oliver Laxer.

It was a great chance to see what students thought of the Mount Elgon tour. The reaction was, happily, a positive one!

We also challenged students to “adopt” some of our tours after summer vacation; to research the locations and the species that live within them and produce a school project to narrate the tours themselves.

We’re looking forward to seeing what students at Cambridge Elementary School come up with!


vecotours in school8

vecotours in school4

vecotours in school5

vecotours in school16


May 12

Welcome, BBC Earth Readers!



Our Ambassador, Ian Redmond, remembers the mountain gorillas that famously interacted with Sir David Attenborough in the landmark television series ‘Life on Earth‘ for a new article for BBC Earth.

Ian recalls introducing the BBC film crew to two of the gorilla groups being studied by Dian Fossey, while he was working as her research assistant at The Karisoke Research Centre in 1978.

Answering the question: “Where are they now?”, BBC Earth explores the lives lived of the gorillas that featured in the now infamous clip. Happily, Poppy, the then two-year-old infant who played alongside David Attenborough, is now an elderly matriarch in the Susa Mountain Gorilla Group, one of the groups habituated for tourist visitors, and one which you can visit, virtually, with vEcotourism.org. at close range on the flanks of Mount Karisimbi.

Click on the image above or here to begin the tour!

To visit more mountain gorilla sites in the Virunga Volcanoes region, including the remote glade where Dian Fossey lies buried alongside her beloved gorilla friends, please choose a tour from the map below.


loading map - please wait...

(Preview) Dian Fossey’s Grave: Tireless champion for her Gorillas in the Mist: -1.471834, 29.483871
Mount Sabinyo: A boardwalk into the clouds: -1.387861, 29.591993
Up close with the Susa gorilla group on the slopes of Mount Karisimbi: -1.533310, 29.509700
Kwita Izina, Kinigi, Musanze, Rwanda: -1.453409, 29.586158
Senkwekwe Mountain Gorilla Orphanage: -1.341641, 29.363978

May 09

vEco launches VR app in partnership with UNEP-GRASP

vEcotourism.org is both proud and incredibly excited to be launching our first virtual reality mobile app in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme – Great Apes Survival Partnership (UNEP-GRASP) and the Ape Alliance: apeAPP VR!

The app, which will be available on both Android and iOS smartphones, will offer immersive tours of all great ape habitats, designed to be viewed in full, immersive 360 degrees when paired with a Google Cardboard-style headset. You’ll explore locations from Gashaka Gumti National Park in Nigeria to the Tripa Peat Swamp in Indonesia simply by turning your head, and learn more about each great ape species via engaging audio narrations and interactive hotspots that display close-up images, fact sheets, and maps.


Doug Cress, programme coordinator for UN-GRASP (left) and Ian Redmond, Chairman of the Ape Alliance and Ambassador for vEcotourism.org


Launching to coincide with the 2nd United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) on 23 May, 2016, the app will showcase the innovative conservation efforts of GRASP, the coalition building of the Ape Alliance, and vEco’s ground-breaking VR technology.

Doug Cress, programme coordinator for the United Nation’s Great Ape Survival Partnership (GRASP) said: “It is our pleasure to bring you this innovative collaboration between our three organizations, bringing cutting-edge virtual reality technology to bear for great ape conservation.

“VR allows anyone with an inexpensive headset and a smartphone to make a connection with a (non-human) great ape. Once the app is released in late May, 2016, you’ll simply install the app from Google’s Play Store, if you have an Android phone, or from Apple’s App Store, if you have an iPhone; slip the phone inside the headset and off you go!”

GRASP Headset design

Ian Redmond, Chairman of the Ape Alliance and Ambassador for vEcotourism.org added: “I’m a huge believer in getting people outside, into nature, so that they can discover the natural world for themselves. But not everyone can afford the time and money to travel, and some places are simply too sensitive too accommodate throngs of visitors. Virtual reality offers an alternative way for people to explore, discover, and ultimately come to care about faraway places and species. You don’t get the smells, unfortunately, but it’s still quite something!”

If you’d like to experience apeAPE VR and you won’t happen to be in Nairobi at the end of May, stay tuned to our website or social media and we’ll let you know when the app is available online. If you don’t already own a Google Cardboard headset, now’s the time to pick one up! vEco recommends this model (£8) in the UK and this one ($15) in the USA.


Apr 22

Virtual reality natural history — a sign of the future!

What equipment does a naturalist usually need? vEco’s Adviser and Ambassador (and renowned wildlife biologist and conservationist) Ian Redmond suggests a pair of binoculars and a hand lens, but — as he explains in this short video — soon, a virtual reality headset could also be a vital piece of equipment!

It’s a positive movement; that many great natural history programmes and films have inspired so many would-be wildlife enthusiasts, and whilst the best way to learn about species is in their natural habitat, affording the costs (and clocking up the air mileage) to do so can often be unobtainable.

vEcotours allows virtual eco-tourism in an immersive, interactive way using a screen (and, imminently, a VR headset!), and as Ian explains here, it can be a very powerful, educational tool that allows interactive learning across the globe.

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