Heroic Tourism is the brainchild of Jessie Panazzolo following her research of two Black Lemur populations in the rainforests of Nosy Be island and Nosy Komba Lemur Park, Madagascar.
Compared to the wild lemurs, the tourist exposed lemurs were obese, diabetic, aggressive and had patches of missing fur. Their diet consisted mainly of sugar rich bananas and they constantly came into contact with people wearing insect repellent and suffering various illnesses.
The other side of the story is that 90% of Madagascar’s rainforests had been destroyed by the establishment of agricultural plantations, leaving wildlife tourism ventures such as those involving lemurs as the only reason for protecting the remaining forest. Tourists were coming from far and wide to see Madagascar’s unique forests and the wildlife that lives within them, but at the same time tourism was harming Madagascan flora and fauna.
Jessie believed that ethical tourism practices and informed travellers could:
- Contribute to a global conservation effort carried out by tourists to protect natural environments and wildlife
- Place positive pressure on tourism ventures in order to mainstream ethical practices
- Phase out unethical tourism ventures through reduced demand.
From these ideologies, Heroic Tourism was born.
Qualifications and experience:
Jessie has studied in two universities across South Australia, however completed her honours degree in a North Sumatran forest while she studied the relationship between reforestation and new habitat for Sumatran elephants and Orangutans. In 2016, Jessie won an award for best student presentation at the Society for Biodiversity and Conservation conference in Singapore for her research on Sumatran biodiversity.
Jessie has worked for over seven conservation projects across seven countries and has taught conservation in schools and local communities in Madagascar, North Sumatra and Australia. She has developed education programs for local zoos and created a successful petition which aided the removal of palm oil from Australian Subway sandwich chains in 2012 while she completed her undergraduate studies.