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We’re onto the next round of games 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!
Next up: Brazil v Mexico
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!
Brazil Wildlife – Highlights
Brazil is perhaps one of the planet’s best destinations for wildlife lovers. It is home to 60% of the Amazon Rainforest and has the most known species of freshwater fish and mammals (such as the giant anteater, the capybara, howler monkeys, the puma). It is also ranked third for the most number of bird species – among the best known are the toucans, parrots, and hummingbirds. The best place to spot wild animals and an incredible array of birdlife is the Pantanal – the world’s largest wetland ecosystems. There are also the Iguaçu National Park (home to the impressive Iguaçu Falls) and the Tijuca National Park. For birdwatchers, Itatiaia National Park (north of Rio de Janeiro) and Alto Paraiso in the southern Amazon are fabulous spots to see more unique species. The areas of Bahia and Santa Catarina are great destinations for whale watching as they migrate north in search of warmer waters.
Country Specific Issues
Deforestation in the Amazon Basin
Forests, the size of a small country, are destroyed every year through extensive legal (and illegal) logging. Since 1970, over 600,000 square kilometers of the Amazon Rainforest have been wiped out. Along with it, many wildlife species have lost their habitat and are becoming endangered. Extinction has become even more problematic in the Atlantic Forest, where over 90% of the forest has been cleared.
Illegal Wildlife Trade
According to Brazil’s National Network Against the Trafficking of Wild Animals (RENCTAS), 38 million animals are poached from Brazilian forests every year. Even though nine out of ten animals die in the process of being caught or during transportation, Brazil still maintains a 15 percent share of the illegal wildlife trade market. Birds are the most sought after by traffickers, with some sold live and others killed for their feathers or body parts. Reptiles (highly valued for their skins) and mammals (mostly primates) are also targets.
Major cities like the capital city Brasilia, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have large numbers of stray animals. There are nearly 150,000 stray cats and dogs in Rio de Janeiro alone. Many roam the streets in very poor conditions – sick and injured. Many dogs face unimaginable cruelty by being poisoned, beaten, denied medical treatment and intentionally run over. If you encounter stray animals, you could consider giving them some food and water, but avoid interacting with the animal too closely as rabies is still a problem in certain areas of Brazil.
Mexico Wildlife – Highlights
Mexico is one of three mega-diverse countries of the world with coastlines on both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. With over 700 species, Mexico is the leader in reptile diversity. It also ranks highly in the mammal and amphibian categories, and is considered the fourth largest country on the planet in terms of overall species. National parks offer some of the best places to observe animals in the wild, namely Sierra de San Pedro Martir National Park (habitat for cougar, mule deer, coyote, bighorn sheep and big soaring birds), and Lagunas de Chacahua National Park (home to crocodiles, sea turtles, iguanas and dozens of bird species). Mexico’s marine parks (namely Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park and Cabo Pulmo National Park) also offer a chance to explore its coral reefs by snorkeling and scuba diving. See our tips on visiting marine parks here.
Country Specific Issues
Mexico has a lot of stray animals, which are often in very poor conditions. The population of stray cats and dogs is controlled by informal and unregulated culling, in San Luis Río Colorado, Sonora, for example, the mayor pays citizens $20 to kill strays. Methods of culling are often very cruel, typical examples include; poisoning, stabbing, beating the animal to death and electrocution. If you encounter stray animals, you could consider giving them some food and water, but avoid interacting with the animal too closely as rabies is a problem throughout Mexico.
Sadly, cock fights, or ‘Palenques’ as they are called locally, are legal in some parts of Mexico, such as the state of Nayarit, and take place illegally throughout the rest of the country. Tourists may well be encouraged to attend the cock fight by local guides, most likely working on commission. Typical cock fighting events feature around 30 ‘fights’. For more information on cockfighting, please click here.
Bull Fighting and Bull Fiestas
Mexico has, arguably, the most prolific bullfighting industry in the world, with at least 500 bullrings, including the world’s largest, ‘La Monumental’, in Mexico City, with a capacity of 42,000. Bullfighting spectators will sometimes be offered the chance to purchase and consume the testicles of steers killed in the bullfight. To read more about bullfighting, click here.
A notable fiesta is held on 1st February every year in Tlacotalpan, a city in the Mexican state of Veracruz. Liquor is poured down the bulls’ throats, and the animals are tied to boats and dragged across a river before being set loose in the streets. Participants then chase, beat, and stab the terrified animals with bats and knives. This continues for hours as drunken residents throw bricks and trash at the animals, kick and punch them, and cut off their ears. Surviving bulls are then turned out to pasture. For photos of this event, click here. To read more of bull fiestas see here.
Lion Cubs – ‘Photo-prop’ animals
Tourists at popular resorts such as Cancun will often come across lion cubs being used as ‘photo-props’, whereby they are charged a fee to have their photograph taken with the animals. These animals will generally be kept in small cages and potentially will not be treated well. Any claims that the money is used for conservation are unlikely to be true. This trade exists only because tourists pay, so please consider this before having your photograph taken with a lion, however cute. To read more about photo-prop animals, see here. Please sign our petition on this issue here.
Species such as white-tailed deer, wild turkey, bighorn sheep, wild boar, white dove, Canadian duck, pichichin duck, red deer, guinea fowl and ostrich, among others species are hunted for sport by so called Wildlife Management units that you can pay to be a part of. Mexico is home to over 2,000 hunting ranches, principally found in the north of the country.
As of 2002, Mexico had the second fastest rate of deforestation in the world, second only to Brazil. In Mexico today , 170,000 square kilometres (65,637 sq mi) are considered “Protected Natural Areas.” These include 34 biosphere reserves (unaltered ecosystems), 67 national parks, 26 areas of protected flora and fauna, 4 areas for natural resource protection (conservation of soil, hydrological basins and forests) and 17 sanctuaries (zones rich in diverse species).
Massive game, which will be decided on mistakes rather than attacking prowess, as both countries have a lot to offer. Brazil’s rainforest and Mexico’s abundance of species put them both in champion winning form, but Mexico wilts in the pressure as bull-fighting and cock-fighting bring errors into their game.
Brazil 3 v 2 Mexico
Don’t miss the next game…