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Ecotourism Does Not Affect Wildlife, Says Study

Update Date: Jan 13, 2016 11:54 AM EST

Contrary to the proper belief that ecotourism makes the wildlife vulnerable to predators, it actually helps in their conservation efforts, say researchers. "There have been some claims that have drawn media attention, saying that nature tourism and ecotourism can hurt wildlife and can even make wildlife more vulnerable to predators and poaching," said one of the researchers Lee Fitzgerald from Texas A&M University in the US. "We wrote to clarify that the opposite is well-known and supported with much research; that tourism can and often does protect large landscapes and the wildlife within those landscapes," Fitzgerald noted, as reported by Business Standard

According to the researchers, in many parts of the world, tourism is essentially a way to protect wildlife from poaching, which is one of the greatest threats to wildlife. They also pointed out that the first national parks in U.S. were developed while keeping tourism in mind and there are thousands of such areas around the world that are at least somewhat justified by tourism. It is hard to imagine that the wild animals becoming so timid from their regular interaction with people that they start losing their fear of being eaten, said the researchers, reported Bharat Press.

Tour operators in Botswana are bringing in South African rhinos and releasing them into the wild so that they can restore the population, said the study co-author Amanda Stronza from Texas A&M University. Additionally, Mara Conservancy along the Tanzania and Kenya borders brings in funding dollars that are directed towards anti-poaching initiative, she said. The researchers explained how ecotourism programmes are helping to keep the poachers away. "We wanted to clarify this crucial point because there is no evidence to support the claim that ecotourism and nature tourism make animals vulnerable to poachers," Fitzgerald said. The article appeared in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution, reports Business Standard

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