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: Ecuador v Argentina
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!
Ecuador Wildlife – Highlights
Ecuador is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on its west coast, the Andes mountain range runs through the middle of the country, and the Amazon rainforest covers its eastern part. It is no wonder the country is home to spectacular wildlife. Capybaras, tapirs, jaguars, anteaters, pumas, ocelots and howler monkeys are just some of its animal residents. Moreover, the unique Galapagos Islands are also part of Ecuador. From giant tortoises and iguanas, to fur seals and dolphins, not to mention birds such as the cormorant and the blue-footed booby, the Galapagos are one of the world’s most astounding places. As this ecosystem is very fragile, please see our tips on wildlife watching here.
Country Specific Issues
Animals on the Menu
In the Northern mountain ranges the Tungurahua and Cotapaxi provinces of central Ecuador, guinea pigs are employed in the celebrations surrounding the feast of Corpus Christi as part of the Ensayo, which is a community meal, and the Octava, where castillos (greased poles) are erected with prizes tied to the crossbars, from which several guinea pigs may be hung. They are farmed throughout the country and are generally eaten on special occasions as they are expensive to buy. To read more click here.
Swimming with Wild Dolphins
The Galapagos Islands are a part of Ecuador and are well known for their wildlife and natural beauty. Two species of dolphins are frequently seen while touring the island – the bottled-nosed dolphin and the common dolphin. While many people see swimming with wild dolphins as a must-do activity, dolphins can actually be harmed by the practice. To read more about swimming with wild dolphins click here.
Argentina Wildlife – Highlights
Being the second largest country in South America, Argentina is home to a wide variety of wildlife including over 900 species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. Argentina also has hundreds of different bird species, making it a bird watcher’s paradise. Animals such as the jaguar, cougar, crocodile as well as many bird species live in the subtropical northern regions, while in the central grasslands, armadillos, deer, foxes, and falcons can be found. One of the most unspoilt areas in Argentina remains the Esteros del Ibera, the second largest freshwater wetland on the planet and the largest protected area in the country. Further south, the Patagonian coast is popular for its marine wildlife (dolphins, orcas). A major tourist attraction is the Peninsula Valdes, which offers the chance to see the southern right whales as they use the natural harbours in this area as a resting and breeding ground.
Country Specific Issues
El Toreo de la Vincha (Bullfighting of the Headband)
Bullfighting is banned in Argentina but there are still some festivals that involve ‘mock bullfighting’. Each August, thousands of tourists and locals head to the town of Casabindo to witness the spectacle of ‘El Toreo de la Vincha’. The bull is not killed in this festival, instead ‘matadors’ have to grab a headband from the bull’s horns. Although the bull is not killed, the event invariably does cause a lot of stress to the bulls involved. You can read more about festivals involving animals here.
Some agencies are offering hunting trips to Argentina to shoot doves and advertising them by saying that you can shoot over 1000 cartridges per day. There is no close season for the eared dove in the country, so countless numbers of these birds of peace are killed in the name of sport each year. You can read more about dove shooting on our partner page at the League Against Cruel Sports, or about hunting here.
It’s the battle between two of South America’s wildlife darlings. Ecuador has a solid line-up with the exceptional Galapagos Islands, but a swim with wild dolphins or a guinea pig snack might have the referee blowing his whistle. On the other hand, Argentina’s unspoilt area of Estero del Ibera and the Patagonian coast are definitely its star players, yet mock bullfighting festivals and hunting trips could lead to yellow cards.
Ecuador 3 v 2 Argentina