Welcome to the next match in our 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: Chile v Australia

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

Chile Wildlife – Highlights

Wedged between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes mountains, Chile has an incredible diversity of landscapes and wildlife. Close to 20% of Chile’s mainland territory is designated as protected areas, and includes 36 national parks and 49 national reserves. Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia is probably Chile’s best known and most beautiful tourist attraction. Among its beautiful scenery of glaciers, rivers and mountains, you will find more than 100 species of exotic birds (parakeets, flamingos), guanacos (similar to llamas), pumas, and the endangered Chilean huemul (a species of deer). With its extensive coast, Chile is also home to sea birds, dolphins, seals, blue whales, and even penguin colonies (which can be seen at Isla Magdalena and Seno Otway). See our tips for unobtrusive wildlife watching here. According to the prestigious publication Ethical Traveler, Chile was voted one of the world’s ten best ethical destinations for 2014.

Country Specific Issues


Chile has a large amount of zoos. Like zoos across the world the standards can vary. The largest zoo is Santiago Zoo (Zooligico National) in the Metropolitan Park area. The reviews for this zoo on Trip Advisor are mixed, but a large amount of them do suggest that the enclosures are not well maintained and too small. One reviewer from Canada posted: ‘This zoo made me want to cry. The conditions in which the animals were being kept were terrible. The leopard was cut and bleeding in its cage. It looked as though it had been declawed and its teeth had been sanded down, the tigers and elephants looked like they were dying, the polar bear had almost no water to swim in and it’s cage looked disgusting. People were able to stick their hand through the bars of the cages and poke the animals.” If you are going to any of Chile’s zoos please read our general issue article here.

Bird Watching

Chile is a renowned site for birdwatchers and wildlife spotters, with almost 20% of the country dedicated as national parks. Owing to the massive variety in the landscape, from glaciers to desert, birders can experience an extensive and broad variety of birds, such as different species of penguin, condor, sea birds, woodpecker, flamingo and ñandú (a tall, fast running, flightless bird). There are various tour operators offering excursions both from outside of Chile, and once tourists arrive in the country. Travellers are advised to check the credentials of the tour operators, look for reviews, and don’t always select the cheapest ones. For more information about bird watching, please read our article here.

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.

Match Report

Final Score

Could Chile be one of the World Cup for Wildlife’s hidden gems? With a fifth of its land taken up by national parks, and voted one of the world’s ten best Ethical Destinations this year, Chile certainly come out fighting. Australia were always up against it in this match, despite some unique talent – but oh, what were they doing with that shark cull??

Chile 3 v 1 Australia

Don’t miss the next game…