What is wildlife watching tourism ?Wildlife is a general term that technically covers both flora and fauna, although in popular use, wildlife is mostly used to refer to animals in the wild. Perhaps a classic image of wildlife for many people is a large mammal or a flock of wild birds, but the term is widely used to cover all types of animals, including all kinds of insects, and marine life.
Wildlife watching is simply an activity that involves the watching of wildlife. It is normally used to refer to the watching of animals, and this distinguishes wildlife watching from other forms of wildlife- based activities, such as hunting and fishing. Watching wildlife and animals is essentially an observational activity, although in some cases it can involve interactions with the animals being watched, such as touching or feeding them.
Wildlife watching tourism is then tourism that is organised and undertaken in order to watch wildlife. This type of tourism has grown dramatically in recent years, and a quick search on the Internet provides many examples of tourism companies that either market specific wildlife watching tours, or promote their products by highlighting wildlife watching as an optional activity that their clients can enjoy.
Wildlife watching tourism shows equally large growth. This can be seen in the number of different types of wildlife watching activities that have been developed linked to commercial tourism, the numbers of tourism businesses that offer these activities, and the numbers of tourists that engage in them. More and more tourism agents and operators are emphasising that tourism needs to be sustainable, and are developing and marketing tourism products that are ‘wildlife-friendly’, as well as carbon-neutral, and which ensure that a fair share of tourist income goes to local people.
What interests people in wildlife?What sorts of species attract most public attention? People’s interests in wildlife are hugely varied, from scientific study to entertainment value, and may change over time. Key factors in wildlife watching tourism are being able to experience animals in the wild, to observe their ‘natural’ behaviour (although this may be affected by tourism activities), and to appreciate their beauty. Public attention inevitably tends to focus on species that are more easily observed – particularly larger species, that show dramatic behaviours – such as predators, or that are symbolic, rare or exotic. However, good guiding and interpretation can make any species interesting to the public, and for tourists these aspects often form an important and memorable part of their wildlife watching experiences.
Species that are watched include not just mammals and birds, but corals, fish, reptiles and insects. Lets have a look:-