Antarctic Eco-Tourists Frighten Breeding Peng

To: <>, "birding Aus" <>
Subject: Antarctic Eco-Tourists Frighten Breeding Peng
From: Goodfellow <>
Date: Tue, 8 Feb 00 07:08:07 +0930
Hello All
There has probably been another side to the ecotourism coin ever since it 
became flavour of the month anyway. The ramifications of 'ecotourism' not 
only apply to animals as the Nepalese experience and the tale below 

I travelled as a guide/lecturer with Society Expeditions back in 1990 
(their motto was "leave no footprints)  

Then we visited the Asmat.  This was supposed to be the highlight of the 
trip.  We had an 'anthropologist' on board who had lived with these 
people and led people in their war chants every night.  His lectures on 
the friendships he had made etc, but on their other practices namely 
sucking all the appendages of people they adopted (fingers, nose, 
nipples, penis etc) and of course their head-hunting.  When he started 
questioning Terry Yumbulul a renowned Aboriginal artist about Aboriginal 
sexual mores, we were really angry; Terry's wife was so angry I thought 
she'd punch the bloke (I would have helped her). Fortunately most 
passengers for all their interest in sex and head-hunting were more 
concerned that on embarking they treat the Asmat as fellow human beings 
and I was quizzed by several as to how they should behave. 

However not all passengers (nor staff) behaved sensibly.  Passengers 
buying up sacred objects nearly caused a riot. If the headpeople refused 
the sale passengers would offer wads of money to others.  In the end they 
got their bargains, some of them statues 2 metres in length.  We had to 
retreat to the Zodiacs in the face of a crowd of several hundred.  Then, 
while we were still tied up, some bright staff member began handing out 
sandwiches and drinks.  Of course the men standing at the edge of the 
dock less than a metre away wanted their fair share.  When some 
passengers handed up the food and drink other men at the back started 
shoving and punching.  Staff members suddenly saw the light and we got 
the hell out of there.  The experience backfired somewhat for several 
passengers were horrified at what had happened and when the 
'anthropologist' got up to lead the warchants he got a rather tepid 
reception.  Several said they'd never return.  One man who'd bought one 
of the huge statues (and used to boast that he was part American Indian) 
was apparently mortified at what he'd done and began a movement to keep 
cruise ships out of the area.

there were also examples of blatant environmental insensitivity. For 
instance I (and several passengers) saw all their garbage(for 165 
passengers and at least 50 crew) being chucked off the back of the ship 
at night. 

This paper was presented at an International Ecotourism Conference, 
Brisbane in 1991 and published in the Burea of Tourism Research.  
Denise Goodfellow

Denise Goodfellow (Lawungkurr Maralngurra)
Specialist Guide
Ph/fax 08 89818492
PO Box 39373

Parap Bookshop
2ndhand and new books
08 89813922

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