tourism and wildlife
Tourism and wildlife come together in a unique travel experience: the African safari. It is in the African savannah that the most popular expression of travel in search of wild animals in their natural habitat is born and develops.
The “safari corridor” extends mainly in the south-eastern part of Africa, where the savanna represents the main ecosystem. Excursions almost always in search of the Big Five (elephant, buffalo, rhinoceros, lion, leopard) take place in 96% of cases in protected areas. The tendency is to hunt the leopard accompanied by a horde of dogs commonly called Chase in Cour.
This hunting practice is on the rise even abroad. For those who would like to learn this practice, you must start making the hunting dog classifieds. Then learn a minimum to shoot a rifle before going on a safari.
Hunting a form of tourism
In the early stages of evolution, the central activity of safari in Africa was, unfortunately, hunting. Far from the classic idea of the photographic safari, this form of “tourism” still exists, even if many countries are revolutionizing their tourist offer by moving towards sustainable development. Wildlife watching, as well as nature photography, has almost entirely replaced hunting.
To date, only Kenya has taken action against this practice, banning the hunting of wild animals throughout its territory.
Read also: How to get a visa for Kenya?
Consequences of tourism and safaris in Africa on wildlife
Take for example road construction in the Kruger National Park in South Africa. Inside the park there is a road network of about 8,000 km, much more efficient than in other African states. Building roads in such an ecosystem involves modifying the wilderness. Roads can be an obstacle for some species, as well as causing collisions with vehicles, traffic and traffic jams. From this point of view, the roads within the natural park take on a negative connotation, representing a disfiguring element of the landscape. In fact, there is the other side of the coin: the impacts of vehicles on paved roads are much less damaging than the effects resulting from off-road vehicles. The roads, in fact, mitigate the damage caused by cars on the ground and on the vegetation; moreover, they allow the “confinement” of tourists, who are obliged to follow a path rather than go off-road with serious consequences on the disturbance of fauna.
Barriers and borders
The issue of creating barriers to separate wildlife from local communities divides specialists. Why are barriers important? Borders protect wild animals, preserving them from poachers in natural parks; they also protect local communities from possible animal attacks. The other segment of scholars argues instead that borders affect the natural migration of animals, which would – in the absence of barriers – be free to move from one area to another.
The question develops on the following choice:
influencing wildlife migrations, “forcing” them into protected areas, safe from poaching crimes leaving animals free to migrate naturally, exposed to the risk of human casualties
In short: free but in danger, or confined but protected?
Artificial water basins
Finally, among the territorial modifications in the savannah, we mention the artificial water points, built to face the problems related to the aridity of the soil. Ponds have a considerable ecological impact on the habits of wildlife, which tend to settle near water sources. The other side of the coin is immediately visible: large concentrations of water attract large concentrations of animals, which in turn attract more and more tourists. So: is it ethical for safari operators – to exploit waterholes as easy viewing spots for tourists? What does the overpopulation of certain areas, determined by the ease of observation, imply?
Disturbance and adaptation of wildlife
The human interventions on the savannah described above converge on a very pertinent question: the disturbance of fauna and the behavioral consequences. The excessive densities of tourists and their vehicles seriously harm the habits of the animals. In the Masai Mara National Park, for example, the cheetah – a diurnal predator – tends to adapt its habits, hunting in the evening, when human presence is not a source of disturbance. Wild animals are therefore likely to adapt to humans. This makes them much more vulnerable to the risk of being captured and killed: the adaptation of wildlife facilitates poaching. This unjust practice has eradicated several species of wildlife and also has negative effects on tourism. Fewer animals, carcasses, various risks modify the image of the destination but above all prevent tourism development based on long-term sustainability.
On the other hand, tourism can help prevent poaching, given the presence of more rangers, local operators and tourists themselves, which discourages bad intentions.
Read also: What should you know about the Tanzania visa?
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