Okay, we’re onto the Round of 16 in our brilliant World Cup for Wildlife! There’s no messing around now – one mistake and you’re out! 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: Chile 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!
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.
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.
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.
It’s hard to predict a winner when you pit the beautiful Patagonia region of Chile against the spectacular Amazon rainforest of Brazil. Both countries are top destinations for wildlife lovers. Yet, Chile’s zoos have come under fire for their terrible conditions, while Brazil juggles with illegal wildlife trade, a rapidly disappearing rainforest and a heartbreaking number of stray animals.
Chile 3 v 4 Brazil
Don’t miss the next game…