Box 1320, Kuujjuaq, Nunavik (QC), J0M 1C0, Canada
Phone: +608-370-5071 / Email
: tundra@thelon.com

 

WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED 'ECOTOURISM'?

Ecotourism is a relatively new word. It was first used in Central America, defined as: "Environmentally responsible travel and visitation to relatively undisturbed natural areas, in order to enjoy and appreciate nature (and any accompanying cultural features - both past and present) that promotes conservation, has low negative visitor impact, and provides for beneficially active socio-economic involvement of local populations.

- Hector Ceballos-Lascurain (1983)

In 1991, the US based Ecotourism Society (now The International Ecotourism Society) defined it as "Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well being of local people." Both these definitions include the elements of environmental conservation & education, community development and responsible travel to / from the destination, a concept that forces us to consider modes of transport. 

 

Great Canadian Wildlife Adventures believes in and practices the principals of eco-tourism. Our operational philosophy is to be as unobtrusive on the land and waters as possible, and includes the teaching and applied practice of minimum-impact considerations to all of our field activities within practical and economically-viable guidelines.  Such practices include doing what we can to minimize use of fossil fuels for remote field access as well as during the day-to-day operations of our camps; the removal of all garbage from the field; campfires only allowed in metal fireboxes and/or below the high-water marks; prohibiting the cutting of live trees; etc.

  Ideally, we try not to even leave footprints! 

An Ecoventures historical interpretive 'reading' on a Thelon esker

 

We at Great Canadian Wildife Adventures strive to find and maintain a balance between providing world-class viewing opportunities for our clients, while maintaining an ethical and non-disturbing approach to sensitive wild animals...


Wolf biologist Dr. L David Mech & the late author /photographer Galen Rowell watching distant  wolves at a Great Canadian wildlife camp - 1998

During our four decades of northern Canada Arctic operations, we are fortunate to have located, and subsequently to offer genuine wild wolves viewing, active caribou migratory water crossings, polar bears in summertime, and musk-oxen grazing ranges. We are fortunate to be able to offer quality photography and viewing of these wild animals with a high degree of success. Yet in such a huge landscape as the Canadian Arctic, and with such unknown variables from season to season as wolf population densities, false-den years, changing caribou populations and migratory routes, hunting & trapping pressures and now climate change; the task to locate animals can often be formidable. Once located, extreme care must be taken not to disturb them, as careless human exposure & activities can influence the behavioral patterns of wild animals and birdlife.

Great Canadian Wildlife Adventures will not endorse wildlife harassment in any form, or for any reason. Nor will we endorse feeding or cornering wildlife at any time to provide closer viewing.
Of critical importance are field practices that minimize disturbance of wildlife and bird life – the ideal wildlife encounter to us is one where we come, watch and then leave without the animals ever knowing of our presence...


Of particular issue is the application of careful flying practices when using aircraft to locate and access remote wildlife: a method which is often a necessity when seeking out migratory wild animals over vast tracts of land such as the Canadian Arctic. When doing so, considerate aviation methods should be applied, such as maintaining safe, legal and non-disturbing altitudes at all times. Specifically, an on-going minimum altitude of 500 ft AGL (above ground level); while at the same time avoiding direct or upwind fly-over of caribou, musk-oxen, polar bears or wolf dens. Pilots conducting wildlife-related flying should be experienced with a 'seasoned eye', or specifically and extensively trained by the operator to learn the ability to pick out wildlife on the landscape from a distance in order to avoid inadvertent disturbances. Once wildlife is discovered by air at a non-disturbing distance, aircraft should immediately turn away and climb out to a higher altitude before attempting to get any closer or to fly over the animals. If a direct flyover of animals is necessary, it should only be conducted from a recommended minimum altitude of 1500 AGL with single normally-aspirated engines, or 2000 AGL with twin and/or turbine aircraft due to the higher pitch of the sound emissions. Since helicopters emit a deep 'thumping' noise that disturbs animals at most any altitude, they should not be use for airborne searches or for flights over wildlife at altitudes below 2000 AGL.

Aircraft should never be flown directly over sensitive areas such as caribou calving grounds or active water crossings at any time. When any low-level flying is required such as for aerial photography, seeking out safe landing or beaching areas or while conducting search and rescue operations such maneuvering should always be conducted over water and not land if possible - and always downwind of any wildlife. Once wildlife is discovered, the choices of where to land and to set up a camp must be carefully considered in order to minimize continued aircraft usage, which of course also makes the most sense for economical operations and to reduce carbon emissions. The choice to land downwind and out of site - a minimum of 1/2 km away or more from any wildlife, and letting the animals come to you is always the best practice.

Click here to learn more about our aviation history in the Canadian North

 

As a eco-tourism company, we practice daily environmentally-conscious field ethics that are intended to leave as little impact as possible  to our surrounding environs. This attitude is particularly important in sensitive Arctic and sub-Arctic regions where even just walking over the wrong area at the wrong time in the wrong manner may scar the land for hundreds of years.  Our camps, equipment & field techniques are operated in low-impact manner, and we expect our guests to assist us in our endeavor to maintain purity on the land.

Studying the aqua activity before wading across

Resting from a remote musk-oxen stalk - Thelon Wildife Sanctuary, Nunavut

Doing the Caribou Dance! - upper Thelon River, NWT

contempating the silence of the Arctic - and then trying to explain that in words...


Aboriginal & Local Community Involvement

In following with the princpals of eco-tourism, Great Canadian Wildlife Adventures often brings local benefits, jobs and tourism training to northern communities and thier aboriginal inhabitants. The Inuit, Dene' & Cree peoples of Canada's north all have a long, proud history of hunting and gathering and absolutely rely on the land, sea and nature for provisions. Most of these local cultures are profoundly rooted in living off the land to survive by hunting, which remains a deep part of their identity. As a eco-tourism company we too are only just 'visitors' to the remote northern lands to where we operate, and to where these peoples live and survive. From our decades of experience we firmly believe that there can be good understanding and relationship between conservation, wildilfe protection and the aboriginal hunting/gathering culture. We continually strive to find that middle ground. To this end, over the years we have operated several joint-venture programs with native groups, and have hired many aboriginal staff to highlight the rich history and local indigenous cultures as a significant part of our tours: Check out our Dreamcatcher Expeditions.


WILDERNESS WATCHDOG


The caribou herds in northern Canada have been dramatically dropping in population for the past decade for yet unknown or undisclosed reasons. As one of the most remote wilderness outfitters in far northern Canada, we often find ourselves in the unique position of being the only unprejudiced 'eyes' out there... Not only is this good for our clients as we know where the best animals congregates are, but it also give us valuable insight and knowledge as to exactly what activities are really going on in the wilderness, and exactly where. With ungoing major mineral discoveries and industrial mining activities in the north, combined with greed and the indecisiveness of aboriginal land claims, the 'truth' often becomes diluted in a political quagmire of big money payouts, shifting allegiances and shady 'closed-door' politics. As major development projects continue to grow in the north near critical wildlife habitat, we often act as a 'watchdog' agency for what is actually happening out there on the land. There are those out there who would try to stop us... Nonetheless, through our extensive environmental and media contacts we are committed to and do our best to continually spread the word - we all have the right to know the real truth about our last stands of our northern wild animals, and what is really going on at our last great wilderness areas in North America.


curious cross-fox pup on the upper Thelon / photo copyright Eric Peterson

Tundra wolf relaxing while watching over the den / photo copyright Eric Peterson

Gyrfalcon feeding its young on upperThelon / photo courtesy Beverly Morris

 


'Caribou & Wolves - 'The Deadly Dance'

In 2003 & 2004, Great Canadian was proud to facilitate cinematographer Jeff Turner and crew of River Road Films to several wild wolf den sites, and to the Great Summer Caribou migration. Jeff got some awesome footage - with several grizzlies coming in to a remote water crossing to feed on caribou that were stuck in the boulders of a creek crossing. During the spring of 2004, Jeff also got some quality wolf pup footage on the upper Thelon.  the documentary was relased in the US on Animal Planet and in the UK on BBC2 on a series called "The Natural World".  Jeff had this to say about his trips with us: 

"I have filmed wolves, caribou and grizzly bears in many areas of the Canadian Arctic over the past 15 years and I have to say that the area around the Thelon River is without a doubt the most beautiful piece of Arctic tundra I have ever experienced. It is a world class wilderness with some of the planets most spectacular scenery and wildlife that is hard if not impossible to see anywhere else. I know of no other place where you can go and watch wild wolves around their den. Wolves are one of the most difficult animals to get close to in the wild and Tom and his crew have been doing it for years. That says a lot about their sensitivity and success as wildlife guides. Tom and his crew at Great Canadian Wildlife Adventures are ideally placed to give access to this wonderful landscape. There is no-one with more experience and knowledge of the area and they have setup a comfortable, warm and homey camp with good food and facilities in the middle of this wilderness. They live lightly on the land here trying always to keep the imprint of man to a minimum in this pristine place. I admire and appreciate the work they do and wish them much success in the future."

Jeff Turner
River Road Films
Princeton, B.C., Canada



We are very proud to announce that in 2002, 'Tundra Tom' and Great Canadian Wildlife Adventures were nominated by year 2000 client & fellow Yukon Northerner Dr. Dave Simonson for the World Wildlife Fund International Arctic Programme Arctic Award for Linking Tourism and Conservation.  The first nomination was then backed up by other client nomination letters from author Alan Weisman and photographer Lonnie Brock.  Click  logo at right to read these very special nomination letters:

 

Great Canadian Wildlife Adventures list of most notable accomplishments


Great Canadian sponsors a non-commercial website for the Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary


Customer testimonials

 

Click here for Conde Nast article.


Read on-line: Conde Nast Traveler controversial article 'Diamonds in the Wild', about the Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary and the potential future effects of diamond and mineral exploration in our last great North American wilderness.
Click here!



Great Canadian Wildlife Adventures is a proud & committed member of FAADA
Turismo Responsable

 

 

Great Canadian Wildlife Adventures

Click here to download our current trip calendar in PDF

 

 

 

Come warm yourself by our fire.
Great Canadian Wildlife Adventures

Phone: +608-370-5071
Email:
tundra@thelon.com
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