Wow, it’s the Quarter Finals of the World Cup for Wildlife! Tense? You should be – there’s a lot up for grabs! We want to find out who, among the World Cup teams, can call themselves the World Champions of Wildlife Tourism…that means they must be a wonderful place for tourists to go and visit wildlife, without too many ‘problems’ that might put people off. Enough waffle…on with the game!
Next up: Cameroon v Uruguay
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!
Cameroon Wildlife – Highlights
Slightly bigger than the state of California, Cameroon has the second highest concentration of biodiversity in Africa. Its rich wildlife consists of hundreds of different mammals, a thousand varieties of butterflies and over 900 bird species. It has all the major African climates and flora (desert, mountain, coastline, savanna and rainforest). The country has more than 20 protected areas. Its most popular reserve is the Waza National Park, which covers an area of 170,000 hectares. Its mammal population is one of the largest in central West Africa and includes lions, giraffes, elephants, antelopes, as well as many bird varieties. The country is also home to the Dja Faunal Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the largest and most protected rainforest in Africa.
Country Specific Issues
Tourism is limited in Cameroon, potentially because of civil unrest, but visitors can enjoy the outstanding array of wildlife in the National Parks, especially the elephants in Waza. The Mbam and Djerem National Park is said to have the greatest habitat diversity of any protected area in Cameroon with more than 60 mammal species, 400 bird species, 65 reptile species and 30 fish species. However, this protected area is not without its fair share of issues. With 74 villages housing approximately 30,000 people adjacent to the National Park, conflicting interests are inevitable.
Agriculture and farming here is done through the Slash-and-Burn method leading to extensive damage to the local habitat, with exploitation of unsustainable timber forest products and overgrazing by livestock increasing the detrimental effects that are taking place in Cameroon. Commercial hunting and hunting for the bushmeat trade is also having a negative impact on the local fauna, with animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, elephants, buffalo and bongo all susceptible to this illegal industry. Read more about bushmeat here.
Uruguay Wildlife – Highlights
With a name meaning “river of the colorful birds”, it is no wonder that Uruguay is a bird lover’s paradise. Rocha Lagoon is a major ecotourism attraction, and has become known as a birdwatching hot spot. It is home to over 200 bird species including flamingos, doves, herons, ducks, and more than 10,000 black-necked swans. Other animal species can be found in the area such as otters, capybaras, and seals, however large mammals are rare within the country. Uruguay is also known for its incredible beaches, lagoons, and forests. Even though Uruguay created a National System of Protected Areas only recently (in 2000), it has made great strides. In fact, the prestigious publication Ethical Traveler has named Uruguay one of the ten most ethical destinations in the world for the fourth consecutive year.
Country Specific Issues
Forested Parks and Protected Areas
Uruguay houses six national parks and eight protected areas comprising low temperate forest and marine life. However, 90% of the land is agricultural, reserved particularly for cattle raising – with one of the highest livestock reproduction rates in the world. Uruguay’s reforestation measures have appeared to be successful, however there are concerns over loss of primary forest at the same time as increased overall forest cover. Already wildlife such as jaguars and giant otters are thought to be extinct in Uruguay due to habitat and prey loss. Cerro Verde has recently been designated as a new Marine Park as an important habitat for juvenile green turtle, whales, dolphin and breeding seabirds.
Particularly popular with tourists, the Leguna de Rocha is a large protected wetland, home to black-necked swan, storks, spoonbills and waterfowl. Birding tours are offered just north of the capital Montevideo, at either the mountainous Pan de Azúcar or via boat at Piriapolis to view a variety of sea birds. Read more about birdwatching here.
Sitting between Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay is often overlooked, leaving much of its pristine beaches empty. Punte de Este is the most popular destination, with an influx of tourists at its peak of January to March described as ‘a St Tropez for the southern hemisphere’. Next door are two protected marine areas at Isla Gorriti and Isla de Lobos, which boast a protected population of fur seals and sea lions alongside a range of marine activities. Yachts, speedboats, jet skiing, fishing, snorkeling and diving are all popular in the region. Find out how you can ensure you do not disturb this ecosystem and keep your marine activity impact low here.
Cameroon comes into this match with a roster of rich wildlife, and plans on scoring fast and early. Sadly, many fans might not have the chance to see its biodiversity as civil unrest and travel advisories limit tourism. With many banners cheering for the “river of the colorful birds”, it is hard to ignore the strong following the Uruguayan team is enjoying. As a bird lover’s paradise, with incredible beaches and forests, it must remain vigilant about habitat loss.
Cameroon 1 v 2 Uruguay