For animal lovers, wildlife tourism is a popular travel trend. A multi-million dollar industry, wildlife tourism puts the encounter between the wildlife and the visitor at the core of its experience. At its simplest sense, wildlife tourism involves watching wild animals in their natural habitat. It can be a form of ecotourism, however, where travellers can help with conservation and preservation of natural habitats and endangered species.

Pros and Cons

Like all tourism, wildlife tourism has negative effects. It can cause significant disturbances to animals in their natural habitats.

A popular trend recently is to travel to developing countries, which does help increase revenue and generate money flow, but also has caused a boom in hotel and resort construction, damaging forests and other habitats which are the homes for these animals.

Wildlife tourism can also disrupt nesting and feeding sites. Animals may be driven off their reserves or forced to find new areas to hunt because of an increase in human traffic, negatively affecting not only the animal but the entire ecosystem in the area. Attracting a large number of tourists to a wildlife area, however, may make it more difficult for poachers of exotic animals because of the increased observation. Many owners of wildlife attractions also work to restore and preserve native habitats.

Popular Destinations

wildlife2 Africa is one of the most popular destinations for wildlife tourism. Home to the most exotic animals in the world, people travel from all over the globe to go on safari in Africa. One of the most popular places in Africa is Kenya, particularly the Rhino Watch Safari. The lodge offers a beautiful view of Mt Kenya and is surrounded by three different wildlife reserves, all offering unique safari experiences and game drives. For those wishing to see more aquatic animals, Patagonia in Argentina is a very popular destination. The Patagonia Project offers wildlife expeditions and nature tours that allow travellers to see penguins, sea lions, dolphins and whales up close.

The Road Less Travelled

While Africa gets most of the publicity for offering the best wildlife and safari experiences, some people may be turned off because of the large crowds. While Africa is so large and offers plenty of exclusive destinations, there are other places in the world that also offer travellers a chance to see wildlife up close. wildlife3 National parks and wildlife reserves in Quebec, Canada, are home to over 650 different species, the majority of which can be seen in the wilderness. There are also whale watching tours available on the St. Lawrence Estuary, which also allows travellers to see numerous land mammals and migratory birds. Other underrated wildlife tourist destinations include viewing the Beluga Whales in the Arctic, the humpback whales in the Dominican Republic, and the crab migration at Christmas Island.

Costs and Savings

Sometimes if you want the best you have to pay, and going on safari on Africa is by no means cheap. Still, it may be the best wildlife tourist destination available, and is likely worth every cent. There are numerous deals online that may help save the cost on flights or lodging, as well as certain safari tour packages that may give discounts if a certain number of people are travelling or on certain dates. For those looking to save money, however, travelling to one of the unheralded destinations, like Quebec, is much cheaper and still offers a great wildlife viewing experience.