Exciting times in our fantastic 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: Honduras v Ecuador

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!

Honduras Wildlife – Highlights

Although a small country, Honduras is host to a variety of animal species thanks to its contrasting climates (humid and tropical in the lowlands; cool and temperate in the mountains). Monkeys are one of the most popular wild animals in the tropical jungles. Other native species more common in the mountains are the fox, coyote, anteater, armadillo, and white-tailed deer. One of the more exotic (and elusive!) animals of Honduras is the jaguar, which inhabits the forests of the Mosquito Coast. The country is also a paradise for birdwatchers with over 700 different species, including parrots, swallows and toucans. Diving and snorkeling can be another great way to see wildlife. The reefs of Bay Islands are part of the second-largest barrier reef in the world, and abound with colorful fish, coral, rays, sea turtles and whale sharks. See our tips on marine activities here.

Country Specific Issues

Fair Trade

Honduras is a major producer of coffee, bananas, cattle and timber, particularly tropical hardwood. This reliance on forest resources and shift towards mass agriculture has led to 37% forest cover reduction between 1990 and 2005. Local communities have not benefited however, with profits generally going to individual business owners and large international companies.  On holiday or otherwise, supporting fair trade standard products from rainforest regions supports communities and thus protects well-managed biodiversity. Read more about fair trade here.

Illegal Wildlife Trade – Exotic Birds

Export of wild caught and captive bred exotic birds is a major black market trade across the Central American region. Around 100 of the world’s 350 parrot species are now threatened with extinction due to deforestation and the illegal animal trade. The birds may be a personal health risk as they often carry disease, are trafficked with no concern for the animal’s welfare and the practice poses a major threat to wild biodiversity. Read more about the illegal animal trade here.

Shark Fin Soup

In 2011, Honduras along with Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama banned shark finning in its coastal waters. The high value fins are sold in Asia for the traditional Chinese ‘delicacy’ shark fin soup. The trade is a welfare and conservation catastrophe for sharks. On the other hand, shark sanctuaries not only protect the sharks but also produce revenue through tourist shark diving. Read more about shark fin soup here and watch a news video on the shark fin ban here.

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.

Match Report

Two wildlife powerhouses come head to head for this game. Although small, Honduras has a variety of animals and birds, not to mention the second-largest barrier reef in the world. On the other hand, Ecuador’s star player is the Galapagos Islands, home to spectacular wildlife. Wow, what a match…

Final Score

Honduras 3 v 3 Ecuador

Don’t miss the next game…