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  • Ecology or exploitation?

    By Jack Ashby, on 15 December 2011

    Ecology or exploitation?Is ecotourism an answer to local environmental and biodiversity conservation?

    That’s the latest question on our iPads for the QRator project. Have you ever done any ecotourism? How did it feel – was there an element of exploitation or did you feel it was doing good?

    The iPad says:
    Tourism can bring money into local communities, giving them financial incentives to value and protect their wildlife. Should tourism be banned when the damage done to an ecosystem by large numbers of visitors reaches a certain point? Is it exploitative to build businesses around access to wild animals? How do we balance the protection and visibility tourism offers an animal against the potential damage?

    And the specimens are labelled like this:

    GORILLA TREKKING
    Gorilla trekking provides income that decreases the threat of poaching. It also stresses the animals and risks transferring diseases.

    THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
    Mass tourism has resulted in huge numbers of people arriving to find work. The result has been over-population, pollution and habitat degradation.

    THE GREAT BARRIER REEF
    Pollution from tourist vessels impacts on all inhabitants of the reef, including its six species of threatened sea turtle.

    SWIMMING WITH DOLPHINS
    To ensure sightings, guides take tourists to areas where wild dolphins come to rest. Being denied proper rest time is very stressful.

    ELEPHANT SAFARIS
    Riding elephants is exciting and a great way to see the jungle but the methods used to tame elephants can be very cruel.

    TIGER TRIPS
    As a result of safaris, individual tigers become well-known and would be missed if they disappeared. If tourism ceased, would poaching take over?

    FEEDING LOCAL ECONOMIES
    Wildlife tourism brings in a huge amount of money. In Costa Rica local businesses hold onto around half of the income from tourists.

    Let us know what you think by getting involved in the conversation at qrator.org.

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