It’s the last set of group games in our fantastic World Cup for Wildlife, and this time the emphasis is on defence! 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 these games, we’ll be focussing on the problems that each country faces, as they are crucial in deciding whether they are a good place for wildlife tourism – or not!
Next up: Cameroon v Brazil
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.
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.
Cameroon has a rich variety of wildlife, however deforestation and the bushmeat trade are putting its fauna at risk. However, when facing the wildlife powerhouse of Brazil, it just might come out on top – Brazil suffers from a large number of stray animals, a large share of the world’s illegal wildlife trade market, and the destruction of the Amazon Rainforest. Oh dear!
Cameroon 3 v 1 Brazil
Don’t miss the next game…