Department of Entomology, Faculty of Agriculture, Kasetsart University, Ngamwongwan Rd., Jatujak, Bangkok, Thailand 10900.
In Thailand, fireflies have become a tourism industry, especially in Samut Songkram province. Amphawa district is the most famous destination, where tourists can enjoy the floating market in the late afternoon and a firefly watching trip at night. The synchronous flashing of Pteroptyx malaccae on trees along the Mae Klong riverbank is spectacular and fascinating. However, firefly tourism at Amphawa has brought many problems to the local community and also to the firefly population. It provides a case study of how poorly planned tourism can destroy the very thing that attracted tourists. After the problems at Amphawa became obvious, other firefly tourism sites became aware of the cost of tourism and realised the importance of firefly conservation. Knowledge of fireflies and ecotourism management is required to conduct sustainable firefly tourism. In response, Kasetsart University set up service projects to support the efforts of local communities. The activities comprised 1) training people to understand firefly biology and share their knowledge with tourists, 2) providing handbooks to help retain the knowledge and establish knowledge resources within communities and 3) creating signboards at piers for the information of tourists. The results of these services are not only helping to develop firefly ecotourism, but are also creating conservation consciousness in both local communities and tourists. Recently, interest in firefly conservation in Thailand has spread beyond tourism areas. Fireflies are becoming recognised and appreciated as a national treasure of this country.
tags: Fireflies, ecotourism, conservation, nature education, Thailand