Jun 05

Explore the world with vEcotourism.org on World Environment Day 2014

WED_2014_EN_LSet up by the United Nations in 1973, World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated annually on 5 June to encourage worldwide awareness and action for the environment. WED has become an impressive platform from which organisations and individuals alike can do something positive for the environment.

“On the 41st World Environment Day, we would like to encourage everyone to explore the world through vEcotourism.org” Andrina Murrell, Communications Director for vEcotourism.org, explains, “Immerse yourself in fascinating landscapes with amazing wildlife and understand the issues facing our world through the storytelling and technology or our global virtual ecotours.”

Pick one of our exciting virtual ecotours (what we call “vEcotours”) from the map below! Take a trip to Sumatra to meet one of our closest relatives and endangered species, the orangutan, discover the secrets in the rocks in Canada, sidle up to the mighty mountain gorilla in Rwanda and much, much more.
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May 30

Helena’s first vEcotour: JARI HQ, Lombok, Indonesia

JARI HQ pano

vEco is proud to present the first ever vEcotour from JARI volunteer, Dr. Helena Baird! As you will see from the tour Helena is no doubt as talented a panoramic photographer as she is a marine ecologist.

“JARI, or “Juang Laut Lestari”, is a small but fiercely motivated locally-run NGO based in Lombok, Indonesia” explains Helena, “JARI’s overarching aim is to improve the condition of Indonesia’s threatened marine ecosystems through outreach, education, research, and most importantly, by working together with local communities.”

Current JARI projects include a marine conservation education program for primary schools called “Laut Sahabat Kita” (“The Sea is Our Best Friend”) and the conversion of a fishing boat into a conservation and education platform named Yosina, co-funded by vEco’s parent organisation Chimp’n’Sea. The boat will visit remote villages in Sumbawa to help them grow through sustainable fishing and ecotourism.

Immerse yourself in this amazing experience alongside Helena: “I will be working to help increase JARI’s capacity for the next year and would like to bring you with me on this journey through vEcotourism.org. Here is my first vEcotour of the humble headquarters of JARI, from where many great conservation goals are currently being initiated. I hope you enjoy it!”

View the tour by clicking on the image above, the vEco icon on the map below or by clicking here.

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JARI HQ pano - Lombok, Indonesia -8.564047, 116.109009 JARI HQ, Lombok, IndonesiaStroll through JARI headquarters in Lombok, Indonesia alongside Dr. Helena Baird.Click the image to start your vEcotour!

May 28

What would you say if given the chance to talk to the world for 15 minutes? – TEDx talk by Ian Redmond

vEcotourism ambassador and great ape expert, Ian Redmond was recently invited to give a TEDx talk at Southampton University.  After the event, Ian explained to vEco how he felt about this unique and exciting experience:

What would you say if given the chance to talk to the world for 15 minutes? I’ve been a fan of TED talks – with their tag-line ‘ideas worth sharing’ – for some time, so was delighted when I was invited to speak at one of the independently organised TEDx events at Southampton University. The rules were simple but strict – stay on the circular red carpet when speaking, don’t look behind you at the screen and do not exceed 15 minutes!

I was last up after an afternoon of outstanding speakers on a variety of topics linked by the theme ‘flourishing in the 21st Century’. Given half a chance, I do like to engage an audience with stories to illustrate my point, but the large digital clock was counting down the seconds in front of me. I had to stay focused, touching on my work with gorillas and elephants but heading for the main take-home message: it is increasingly clear that the health of our planet depends on the ecosystem services provided by tropical forests, and that the health of those forests depends on keystone animal species such as primates and elephants, who prune the trees, create light-gaps, spread tonnes of manure and disperse the seeds that will grow into the trees of tomorrow. Ergo, if you value the forests, then you must protect the gardeners of the forest! I made it to the end with one second to spare!

You can watch the complete TEDx talk by Ian Redmond below.

 As featured in the TEDx talk don’t miss the opportunity to have your own immersive experience with mountain gorillas, expertly guided by Ian Redmond himself, via a vEcotour of the Virunga Mountains here.

May 13

Introducing Mark Laxer

Mark Laxer - BorgoHi. Mark Laxer here, president of Chimp-n-Sea Wildlife Conservation Fund and director of the vEcotourism project.

Welcome to my new blog series! That’s me in the photo in 2010, dressed as a human-ape hybrid. I was promoting my book, The Monkey Bible, that I wrote to encourage religious and scientific communities to work together to protect wildlife. The main character of this allegory invents vEcotourism.

All told, 2010 was a bold year for me and I’ve again been inspired to take bold steps in 2014. This year, I’m building a Mobile Elephant Theater. What exactly is it? Where will it go?  What is its connection to vEcotourism? Follow my new blog on vEcotourism.org and I’ll answer these questions and more. Stay tuned! Please share and like this post so that my future entries will show up in your newsfeed.

– Mark

May 09

Last resort: rescuing an orangutan from its natural habitat

OrangFamilyA recent article from Lucy Radford, Development Officer at Barbary Macaque Awareness & Conservation, provides a moving account of her trek through fragmented forest in Langkat, North Sumatra.

Supported by stunning photography from wildlife photographer Andrew Walmsley, Lucy outlines the plight of wildlife that is being squeezed into smaller and smaller areas as oil palm plantations continue to consume habitable forest. So much so that organisations such as the Sumatran Orangutan Society are being forced to relocate orangutans out of forest fragments to safer areas.

Travel through the forests of Langkat, North Sumatra with Lucy and Andrew and find out how it is possible for a forest to no longer be a forest. Read the full article here.

You can take an immersive and interactive vEcotour in Sumatra with expert guide, Ian Redmond, now by clicking here!

May 06

Introducing Andrina Murrell: getting the word out for vEco

Hi there vEco followers!

Andrina in Ethiopia!My name is Andrina Murrell and I have been tasked with the exciting job of telling the world about vEcotourism and our vision to bring interactive and immersive experiences of wild places to everyone.

Having spent several years working within conservation and wild animal welfare (that’s me in Ethiopia in the photo, where I helped develop the country’s first Wildlife Rescue Centre), I’ve developed a passion for communicating the issues that our world faces as well as the wild wonders which it encompasses. Being part of the vEco team allows me to indulge this passion with the added bonus of innovative technology.

I hope that through providing an interactive and immersive experience of new places, people, flora and fauna that vEcotourism will motivate YOU to be inspired by nature and to take action to protect our world.

Communications are a two-way thing so let me know your thoughts, let’s have a conversation. What can vEco do better? Where would you like to see a vEcotour based? What could you help us with? There are all sorts of ways we can start this conversation, through our Facebook page, Twitter, this blog or even good ol’ email!

I look forward to bringing you more remarkable content from our fantastic pano photographers around the world and our amazing tech team.

Find out more about the rest of the vEco team here!


Apr 29

Welcoming Helena Baird to the JARI team

Helena (left) with Hani Nusantari, co-founder of JARI

Helena (left) with Hani Nusantari, co-founder of JARI

vEcotourism.org is very happy to welcome experienced marine ecologist and Australian Volunteer for  International Development (AVID) volunteer Dr. Helena Baird to the team at JARI, vEco’s partner in Indonesia.

With conservation project experience in places as diverse as the Bahamas, Zimbabwe and Antarctica, Helena will be working with JARI to implement marine education opportunities, working with local schools, teachers and communities on Lombok and Sumbawa, as a long-term conservation strategy.

Additionally, Helena will help JARI develop a new ecotourism initiative onboard the ship ‘Yosina’, a floating marine conservation and education vessel developed in partnership with vEcotourism’s parent, Chimp-n-Sea. Yosina provides many opportunities for the creation of new vEcotours and Helena has already been practicing making panos with the GoPro camera!

As Helena explains, “I have long been passionate about marine conservation and am excited to be working in a country with such incredibly rich, yet fragile marine biodiversity.”

We look forward to seeing and hearing more about Helena’s adventures!

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JARI - Lombok, Indonesia -8.707124, 115.845337

Apr 23

vEcotourism needs your help!

Would you like to get a sneak peek at vEco’s latest and greatest innovations?  Become a vEconaut! 

We need your help to test out the freshest content from vEcotourism.org.  As a vEconaut, you will help vEcotourism to ensure it produces the best, bug-free vEcotours, bringing immersive and interactive experiences of amazing places and wildlife around the world to anyone with a PC, tablet or smartphone!

If you are interested in being part of this innovative initiative, please join the new vEconaut Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/573599222755791/

We look forward to having you on board!

Become a vEconaut!

Apr 11

Scrambling up the Albertine Escarpment, Uganda

Today we are travelling to the Albertine Graben region in the East African Rift Valley. I visited this area to perform an environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the Chinese oil giant, CNOOC, as the Rift Valley is thought to contain large amounts of natural gas and oil. To access the site I had to climb roughly 300m down the steep escarpment, or cliff, which takes about 45 minutes. It might not look that hard, but because of the heat and the climb you sweat and pant for breath going up and going down!

There a group of able bodied men who wake up every morning and come below the escarpment to work as “helpers” to carry luggage for most of the people who come to the site. I tried to descend with my back pack but I was breathing heavily and drinking lots of water. To my surprise there were young girls who also come to this place to help ferry sugarcane down the escarpment. The biggest problem is during sharing of the money given to the “helpers” as they might not agree on how much each man gets because they help lift luggage of different weights and dimensions. It was on my way back up the cliff that I made these panoramas for vEcotourism.org.

At the bottom of the cliff, you can see the young men have tied up our luggage ready to ascend the escarpment as a young boy rests nearby with his sugar cane. At the base of cliff there are motor bikes (also called “boda boda” in Uganda) waiting to move travellers to their destinations in the Rift Valley, be it CNOOC’s installations, the Kingfisher oil site, local fishing villages or farm lands.

Click on the image or here to begin your tour!

– Mark O


Mar 21

Experience the roar of the magnificent Murchison Falls, Uganda

Murchison Falls

In December 2013 I travelled to the remarkable Murchison Falls, also known as Kabalega Falls, in north west Uganda. Located within Uganda’s largest protected area, the Murchison Falls National Park, the area is characterised by green, pristine vegetation scattered with diverse wildlife. You can join me on my travels through this vEcotour; experience the thunderous Murchison Falls, watch the amazing wildlife browsing the rich habitat and understand the challenges within this oil-rich region.

Making your way towards the top of the deafening Falls, you can feel the force of the world’s longest river, the Nile, being driven through a narrow gorge to the river below creating a breath-taking rainbow. The river then flows westward into Lake Albert, the most diverse lake in Uganda, providing wonderful habitat for elephants, buffaloes, hippos, Nile crocodiles and aquatic birds. However, this magnificent region faces a huge challenge. Murchison Falls National Park is considered to be oil-rich and there is need to strike a balance between oil exploration and wildlife conservation.

Come on a vEcotour to Murchison Falls with me by clicking on the image above and we will explore the remarkable environment, the awesome wildlife and how these wonders can exist and continue to thrive in the face of often damaging oil exploration.

Alternatively, click here to start your vEcotour!

Make sure you also keep up with my blogs, the latest vEcotours and news by following us on Twitter as well as on our brand new Facebook page!

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Murchison Falls, Uganda 2.146111, 31.811111 Murchison Falls, UgandaJoin vEco blogger Mark O to experience the awesome roar of the Murchison Falls.Click the image to start your vEcotour!

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