Wouldn’t it be amazing to kayak with the great manatees, drive alongside a large bison, go snorkeling with sea turtles, swim with dolphins, hike with bears and much more. All of these things are possible in the United States. They are all activities part of ecotourism. People may think these practices are safe and regulated but they are extremely bad for the environment and the animals. It is also believed that the money spent on these practices helps go to their conservation but it doesn’t outweigh the detrimental effects of human interaction.
In the Environmental Newsletter article it said that protected areas around the globe get more than eight billion visits per year. This human presence greatly affects the animals in many ways. It changes their behaviors especially around humans. This starts a chain reaction of bad adjustments. According to the Nature Conservancy eco tourism “disturbs animals, creates demands for new development and only employs local people in low paying jobs”.
Places like the serengeti where tour jeeps have carved many unnatural paths in the land and the exhaust coming from the engines is endless this has just a small effect but it creates greater problems. Say the zebras start using the paths that the humans created. The zebras are then losing migration routes that they have used for years and they have to compete with the human traffic which causes obvious issues. They are then inhaling a lot more exhaust and being exposed to more outside exposures. I could continue but it is easy to extrapolate all the things that could become issues with this human interference. Cuba is supposed to have one of the most pristine shorelines and coral reefs. This is because of the lack of development and human interaction that is a result of the lack of trade and tourism there.
It does help with providing communities incentive to preserve nature and reduce poaching and developmental pressure. But most of these places are owned by international tourism companies so it doesn’t actually help the local economy and even takes land away from the locals. These locals are even sometimes seen as “an exotic backdrop to the natural scenery of wildlife” and are exploited and taken advantage of.
This also brings up the related argument that stemmed from the Cecil the Lion incident. Does the life of one outweigh the needs of many? Does the money from someone legally killing an serengeti animal help enough to justify the murder of that animal? Is sacrificing one to save the lives of many really justified. So in relation to ecotourism do the negative effects of human traffic on the wildlife outweigh the possible longer term preservation of it?
This is not to say that ecotourism is all bad. I myself participate in ecotourism all the time and it has many advantages but people need to take into consideration the
negative effects of ecotourism which are much more than what is stated in this post.
Written by Mareka Tsongas, ESLLC 2015-2016
Miller, Matt. “Ecotourism: Green, or Bad for the Environment? | Conservancy Talk.” Conservancy Talk. 4 Nov. 2009. Web. 12 Oct. 2015. <http://blog.nature.org/conservancy/2009/11/04/ecotourism-green-problem-green-solution-matt-miller-nature-conservancy/>.
Newsroom, UCLA. “ENN: Environmental News Network — Know Your Environment.” Wildlife and Habitat Conservation News: Ecotourism Can Put Wild Animals at Risk. 9 Oct. 2015. Web. 12 Oct. 2015. <http://www.enn.com/wildlife/article/49058>.
Rassmussen, Dana, and Melissa Andrews. “Can Ecotourism Harm Africa.” Www.eco-friendly-africa-travel.com. Web. 12 Oct. 2015. <http://www.eco-friendly-africa-travel.com/can-ecotourism-harm-africa.html#>.