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The quest for authentic experiences in wildlife tourism - a review of issues

Term Paper 2006 11 Pages

Tourism

Excerpt

Table of contents

Abstract

Table of figures

1. Preface

2. Introduction
2.1 Wildlife Tourism
2.2 Sustainability
2.3 Authenticity

3. Tourist’s expectations on a wildlife-based holiday

4. Impacts of human – wildlife interactions on wildlife
4.1 Disturbance and accidental killing
4.2 Habituation
4.3 Habitat destruction

5. Possible solutions to conflicts
5.1 Visitor Management
5.1.1 Physical Separation
5.1.2 Fines and Fees
5.1.3 Limiting Visitor Numbers
5.1.4 Education
5.1.5 Fear
5.2 Managing Wildlife
5.2.1 Physical Separation
5.2.2 Attracting Wildlife
5.2.3 Hazing
5.2.4 Culling

6. Conclusions

References

Abstract

Tourism based on interactions with wildlife is increasing in popularity across the world. This trend leads to increasing pressures on the visited ecosystems. In this paper the reader is introduced to the issues surrounding sustainability and authenticity of wildlife-based attractions and tourist’s expectations on a wildlife-based holiday, possible impacts of human – wildlife interactions on the wildlife are explored and solutions to conflicts arising from these interactions are shown. This paper aims to show that providing an authentic experience of wildlife to large numbers of visitors is mutually exclusive to ensuring the sustainability of the wildlife-based attraction visited.

Table of figures

Figure 1: Wildlife-based tourism (WBT)

Figure 2: Levels of Authenticity

Figure 3: The nature and variety of wildlife watching activities

The quest for authentic experiences in wildlife tourism - a review of issues

1. Preface

Whether you are hiking in the forests and mountains of Germany, going on an all-inclusive Safari Holiday on the African veldts, watching whales off Canada’s coast, visiting the Galapagos Islands with their unique eco-systems or going on a bird-watching trip in Ecuador, you will interact either on purpose or quite by accident with the inhabitants of these ecosystems. The sophisticated western tourist, whose daily life is often removed from nature, is on the search for the “real”, “authentic” experience of his natural surroundings and their inhabitants. But the animals are becoming restless. Deer and lions, whales and porpoises, even the birds in the rainforest are becoming stressed because of the increasing number of visitors (Ananthaswamy, 2004; Opaschowski, 1991). Wildlife tourism and in particular ecotourism promise sustainability and the conservation of the visited sites, but the long-term impact tourists are having could endanger its very foundation, the wildlife.

2. Introduction

When in the early 1970s the issue of visitors’ impacts on the destinations ecosystem came first to the attention of researchers, virtually nothing was known of the influence human activities have on ecosystems. First research in African game reserves suggested a link between the number of visitors and an increasing reduction in the attractiveness of the destinations visited. Big game became more and more scarce due to a variety of causes, not least because of habitat destruction through touristic uses. It emerged that the impact of the visitors on the visited destination could be so strong that the very reason they were visiting the destination for was destroyed. It became more and more clear that the resource base needed to be protected in order to ensure the future viability of the destination as a tourist attraction. The difficulty in the discussion surrounding the topic of sustainability is that up to now there is very little common ground to discuss the issue on. Common definitions for often-used catchwords such as wildlife tourism, sustainability or authenticity are still lacking.

2.1 Wildlife Tourism

illustration not visible in this excerpt

In their 2001 paper “Towards a conceptual framework for wildlife tourism” Reynolds and Braithwaite suggest that wildlife tourism could be defined as “an area of overlap between nature-based tourism, ecotourism, consumptive use of wildlife, rural tourism and human relations with animals”, which they illustrate with the following graphic:

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1: Wildlife-based tourism (WBT)

(After Reynolds & Braithwaite, 2001, p.32)

For the purpose of this paper this definition of wildlife tourism will be accepted, thus encompassing all subsets of human-wildlife interaction, but only those interactions that happen within a touristic framework will be regarded. Tourism-based interactions are those actively sought after by humans who travel to a destination away from their normal area of residence and spend at least one night at the destination in order to experience any kind of interaction with wildlife, be it hunting, a photo-safari, swimming with dolphins, visiting a zoo or safari park or watching birds in the tropical rainforest. The formerly so popular pastimes involving consumptive use of wildlife, such as fishing for food or hunting, are nowadays in decline, whilst pastimes involving wildlife watching are becoming more and more popular. This paper will concentrate on non-consumptive uses of wildlife, as a consumptive use helps to destroy its resource base by its very nature.

2.2 Sustainability

Whilst there is no common definition of sustainability, it is generally understood that sustainable tourism does not endanger its resource base, be it economically, ecologically or socially. Therefore a sustainable tourism product can be defined as a product or service for visitors to a destination that is economically viable, does not destroy its ecological resources and is socially accepted within the host community (Ryan, 2002).

2.3 Authenticity

Another very hazy term is the concept of authenticity. On the one hand authenticity may be defined as a state of being before any changes are introduced to a system or object through influences from the outside. On the other hand it can be seen as merely what the observer regards as the “real”, unadulterated thing or experience, without it necessarily being in its original state or being used for its original purpose. The following graphic may serve to illustrate this point.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2: Levels of Authenticity

For the purposes of this paper only that what has not been changed noticeably through human actions will be regarded as authentic. As this paper is concerned with human – wildlife interactions in particular, only those experiences where the interactions are unscripted, follow the natural behavioural pattern of the wildlife and can easily be avoided by the wildlife should it wish to do so will be regarded as authentic experiences. The nature of human - wildlife interactions can be viewed under various aspects. As mentioned before it is possible to distinguish between consumptive and non-consumptive interactions, as well as between scripted and unscripted interactions and interactions where the purpose is to observe or where the purpose is to participate. Shackley summarises in her 1996 book “Wildlife Tourism” the nature and variety of wildlife watching experiences in the following graphic, where the nature of animal captivity can be found on a sliding scale from captive as in zoos via captive in large enclosures such as game parks to entirely free such as whales in the sea and the nature of tourist activity can be found on a sliding scale from participatory actions to purely observational actions of the tourists.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 3: The nature and variety of wildlife watching activities

(after Shackley, 1996, p.60)

This view can be utilised as well to qualify experiences of human – wildlife interactions in regards to authenticity. As defined before we will only regard those experiences as authentic where the interaction is unscripted and can easily be avoided by the wildlife. Thus any experience of animals in captivity cannot be regarded as authentic.

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Details

Pages
11
Year
2006
ISBN (eBook)
9783640279678
ISBN (Book)
9783640283361
File size
437 KB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v122989
Institution / College
Stralsund University of Applied Sciences – FB Wirtschaft
Grade
1,7
Tags
Scientific Writing wildlife tourism sustainable authentic human-wildlife interaction habitat destruction Nature Natur Tourismus Nachhaltigkeit Ökologischer Fußabdruck

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Title: The quest for authentic experiences in wildlife tourism - a review of issues