THE FLAWED ASSUMPTIONS BEHIND ELEPHANT ECOTOURISM

Reblogged from Conservation Magazine.

According to a NEW study, an over-increase in elephant density does not equate to increased eco-tourism, and could actually lead to a decrease in biodiversity. ~Andrew Wyatt

Image © Alexandra Lande | Shutterstock

Image © Alexandra Lande | Shutterstock

March 20, 2014 | Conservation This Week

If you have more elephants, they will come. That’s been the philosophy behind attracting tourists to wildlife reserves in South Africa. But this assumption is flawed, according to a new study in Ecological Applications. Increasing elephant density doesn’t translate to more ecotourism, and doing so could end up hurting the biodiversity that these parks are meant to protect.

Reserve managers depend on tourists for much-needed revenue. To keep visitors happy, managers often bring in more impressive animals such as elephants. But these charismatic creatures can damage ecosystems. For example, large numbers of elephants can knock down trees and reduce the number of plant species, which in turn can lower the diversity of animals.

The researchers studied five private reserves and an ecotourism operator in South Africa, where visitors can go on guided tours to spot animals. For each site, the team members found out how frequently tourists saw elephants in 2010. They also analyzed data on elephant populations and tourism in Addo Elephant National Park, South Africa from 1954 to 2011.

Read more at Conservation Magazine…

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