Although animal tourism teaches visitors about conservation, it often contributes to environmental damage. Attractions that bring tourists into nature, such as whale watching, can introduce non-native species into the environment and cause habitat destruction. Even partial habitat destruction can change the niche opportunities for species in the area, making it easier for the non native species to infiltrate. Non native species can then alter the ecosystem and disrupt the food chain.
But even if tourists never physically touch animals’ habitats, people’s lifestyles could still harm the environment. The people of North America, Europe, and Japan make up 15% of the world’s population, yet they consume up to 80% of the world’s resources and are major contributors to toxic pollution. And since they also make up 80% of all international travelers, their unsustainable consumption of wood, water, energy, and food affects countries worldwide.
Animals are the first to suffer from these unsustainable actions when their habitats are destroyed by non-native species and to obtain dwindling resources needed to continue satisfying tourists.
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Anderson, L. G., Rocliffe, S., Haddaway, N. R., & Dunn, A. M. (2015). The Role of Tourism and Recreation in the Spread of Non-Native Species: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Plos One,10(10). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0140833
Moorhouse TP, Dahlsjö CAL, Baker SE, D’Cruze NC, Macdonald DW (2015) The Customer Isn’t Always Right—Conservation and Animal Welfare Implications of the Increasing Demand for Wildlife Tourism. PLoS ONE 10(10): e0138939. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0138939
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