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Exciting times in our fantastic World Cup for Wildlife! We’ll be comparing wildlife tourism in each of the countries taking part in the World Cup to see who will ultimately take the title Wildlife Tourism World Champions 2014! In this second group of first round matches, we’ll be focussing particularly on good attacking – the positives of wildlife tourism in each country…

Next up: Australia v Netherlands

Check out the highlights and issues around wildlife tourism in each country below (all information taken from www.RIGHT-tourism.org), then read our Match Report at the bottom to find out the score!

Australia Wildlife – Highlights

Australia is known for its unique wildlife, as more than 80% of its plants, mammals, reptiles and frogs are found nowhere else on earth. The country is home to many national parks and World Heritage Areas. The Great Barrier Reef Queensland is legendary for being the world’s biggest coral reef system, and is popular for diving and snorkeling. See our tips on marine activities here. Kakadu National Park provides some spectacular birdwatching opportunities, while Kangaroo Island is the best place to see marsupials in the wild. The island of Tasmania is another great destination to see wildlife. Spotting animals in the wild is often a matter of luck so here are a few of the parks where sightings are assured: the Lone Star Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane, the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary on the Gold Coast, the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary in Kuranda, and the Melbourne Zoo. For more information, see our article on zoos here, and animal sanctuaries here.

Country Specific Issues

The fauna and flora of Australia is characterised by high numbers that are endemic to Australia. Native animals are under threat with over a hundred species currently under serious threat of extinction.

Australia has a poor record of conservation of native fauna. The extinction of Australian mega-forna is attributed to the arrival of humans and since European settlement, 23 birds, 4 frogs, and 27 mammal species are also known to have become extinct

Invasive Species

Australia’s geographical isolation has resulted in the evolution of many delicate ecological relationships that are sensitive to foreign invaders and in many instances provided no natural predators for many of the species subsequently introduced. Introduced plants that have caused widespread problems are Lantana and the Prickly Pear Bush. The introduction and spread of animals such as the Cane Toad and the European Rabbit can disrupt the existing balances between populations and develop into environmental problems. The introductions of cattle into Australia and to a lesser extent the dingo are other examples of species that have changed the landscape.  The introduced species of red fox has single handedly caused the extinction of several species.

Marine Conservation

Recent climate change reports have highlighted the threat of higher water temperatures to the Great Barrier Reef; just one of the notable issues with marine conservation in Australia is the protection of the Great Barrier Reef, a world heritage site and the largest coral reef on the planet. The Great Barrier Reef’s environmental pressures include water quality from runoff, climate change and mass coral bleaching, tourism visitor numbers, overfishing, and shipping accident. To read more on coral reefs click here or on coral damage click here.

Netherlands Wildlife – Highlights

Known for its windmills, tulips and canals, the Netherlands does not generally come to mind as a country rich in wildlife. However, there are many species of animals that thrive in this country thanks to its maritime climate. The Netherlands has 20 national parks scattered across the country. Biesbosch National Park is the place to see beavers, while the sand dunes of De Loonse en Drunense Duinen National Park are home to badgers. The red deer, Holland’s largest animal, is often spotted in the Hoge Veluwe National Park. Interestingly, the country contains a remarkable 600 wildlife crossings that are used to protect habitats and avoid collisions between humans and wildlife.

Country Specific Issues

Protected Areas

Despite being a densely populated nation, the Netherlands provide a good example of how to practice wildlife protection. The country boasts an impressive number of over 600 wildlife crossings to assist with the protection of wild board, deer and the endangered European badger.  De Hoge Veluwe, the largest nature reserve in the Netherlands has three 50-metre eco-ducts that are used to help wildlife cross the busy roadways that transect the park. Two eco-ducts crossing a highway cutting through the middle of the reserve have reconnected two forests and in one year provided safe crossing for nearly five thousand deer and wild boar. The Netherlands also boosts the world’s longest wildlife overpass called the Natuurbrug Zanderij Crailo. It is over 800 metres long and spans a railway line, business park, river, roadway, and sports complex. Read more about protected areas here.

Bird Watching

The many wetlands of the Netherlands are home to one of Europe’s largest concentrations of birds making it a popular bird watching destination with up to 125 species to be spotted. The winter season in the grass and marshland of Waddenzee, sees nearly all species of European duck and geese, white tailed eagles and many waders. The summer time brings the black-tailed godwit, lapwings, snipe, ruff, garganey, and the common redshank. Also seen are the blue throat, common rosefinch, penduline tit, great reedwarbler, black woodpecker, lesser spotted woodpecker, firecrest and black grouse. Whilst this abundance of birds is a bird watchers dream, the number of tours offered to this area could cause disturbance to the birds. If you are looking at taking a bird watching trip to the Netherlands, please read our information on bird watching here before choosing your tour operator.

Match Report

Tough game between two very different teams. Both offer good access to their respective wildlife, and the Netherlands (Holland) have some surprising and often subtle delights. But for pure showmanship, Australia’s native species take some beating. It’s kangaroo to koala to Tasmanian Devil – a magnificent hat-trick!

Final Score

Australia 3 v 1 Netherlands

Don’t miss the next game…