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: Costa Rica v England

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!

Costa Rica Wildlife – Highlights

Despite its small size, Costa Rica is believed to possess the highest density of biodiversity of any country worldwide. Its variety of wildlife can be attributed to its numerous ecosystems and its twelve climatic zones. The government has pursued an aggressive agenda to protect this diversity, setting aside over 27% of its land for conservation. Corcovado National Park is the largest park in Costa Rica and is widely considered the crown jewel in its extensive system of national parks. National Geographic has called it “the most biologically intense place on Earth in terms of biodiversity”. Visitors can expect to see an abundance of wildlife including sloths, monkeys, frogs, and birds.  The country’s ocean diversity is as fantastic with a variety of whales, dolphins and fish. Costa Rica has the longest season for humpback whale watching in the world.

Country Specific Issues

National Parks

A lot of Costa Rica’s biodiversity can be found in the extensive national parks. These parks cover 25% of the country’s area – the highest in the world (compared to an average of 13% for developing countries, and 8% for developed). Another achievement of the country was to reduce its rates of deforestation from among the worst in the world down to almost zero by 2005, although recently it appears to have returned as a problem.

The Corcovado National Park is world-renowned for its biodiversity, including the four species of Costa Rican monkey. The Central American Squirrel Monkey is testament to the conservation work being done in the country – considered endangered for many years, its status was upgraded to vulnerable in 2008. Illegal pet-trading, deforestation and hunting are still causes for concern however. Read more on National Parks here.


In another forward-thinking step, Costa Rica looks set to become the first Latin American country to ban hunting. In a landmark ruling set to take place in October 2012, the government looks set to call a halt to the ‘recreational sport’ which puts paid to many of the country’s most ‘desirable’ animals – jaguars, pumas and turtles. Environment activist Diego Marin summed up: “We’re not just hoping to save the animals but we’re hoping to save the country’s economy, because if we destroy the wildlife there, tourists are not going to come anymore.” Around 300,000 tourists each year visit the country’s national parks. Read more on hunting here.

England Wildlife – Highlights

Thanks to its moderate climate, as well as its numerous habitats (such as woodlands, meadows, wetlands, and heath), the United Kingdom is home to a variety of wildlife. Its largest mammal is the red deer, while its smallest is the pygmy shrew. Foxes and rabbits are often seen in the countryside, and sometimes even a badger, hedgehog or weasel can be spotted. The country shelters over 200 native bird species including several varieties of puffins. It is also a temporary home to many migrating birds, making it a paradise for birdwatchers. Seasonally, dolphins and seals can be found along the shores and coastlines.

Country Specific Issues

Zoos and Farm Parks

Given that the UK is known to be a nation of animal lovers, there is a long history of exhibiting wild animals to the public in the UK, with many considering a trip to the zoo to be a great family trip. However, like all countries the quality of the zoos does vary and there are reports of various UK zoos breaching regulations. If you are considering a visit to a zoo, click here to read more. The same applies to aquariums, please read a tourist report on Sealife Centre in Brighton here. Farm Parks – attractions where farms have opened their doors to the public and display animals – are growing in popularity, but conditions in some aren’t as good as they could be. If you see something that disturbs you, tell us!

Why don’t birds in zoos fly away? Some have their wings severed – read more from the Captive Animals Protection Society here.

“The process of pinioning involves the cutting of one wing at the carpel joint, thereby removing the basis from which the primary feathers grow. This makes the bird permanently incapable of flight because it is lopsided”

Safari Parks

There are several attractions throughout the UK which market themselves as ‘safari parks’ as opposed to zoos, typically offering visitors the opportunity to drive through the animal’s enclosure. Careful consideration needs to be taken to ensure that if you are visiting a safari park, safety for visitors and animals is being maintained, and contact is not permitted.

Circus Performances

Recently the use of wild animals in circuses has been a very contentious political issue in the UK. The Government has now indicated that a ban will be put in place before the next general election, however, for the time being, wild animals are still being used. Tourists should avoid circuses that make use of wild animals as it is impossible to transport, train and house these animals in a humane manner. To read more about Circuses and Animal Shows click here.

Badger Cull

A ‘pilot’ cull of badgers went ahead during the summer 2013 in specific areas of England. The cull is part of a government strategy aimed at reducing incidences of bovine TB in cattle, and was testing whether badgers can be culled by free-shooting at night. If successful, Defra plans to roll it out on a much wider scale. Many wildlife organisations, including Care for the Wild, oppose the plan. Scientists, who led a previous cull which killed thousands of badgers over 10 years, concluded that culling was not an effective method of tackling bTB. Tourists to England in summer 2013 may wish to be aware of which areas are being covered by the cull. For updates see here.

Match Report

Costa Rica has made great strides to protect its biodiversity, however deforestation, illegal pet-trading, and hunting remain causes for concern. England still has work to do as well when it comes to its zoos, circuses, farm parks, and of course its notorious badger cull. This might be too close to call!

Final Score

Costa Rica 1 v 1 England

Don’t miss the next game!