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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: Ivory Coast v Japan

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!

Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) Wildlife – Highlights

Cote d’Ivoire is made up of forest, savanna and grassland habitats, which are home to a rich variety of animal species. The elephant remains the most emblematic amongst the mammals, but the country is also host to buffaloes, lions, leopards, antelopes, monkeys and many hundreds of bird species. The country’s national parks showcase its diversity of wildlife. The Comoé National Park encompasses over a million hectares (one of the largest conservation areas in West Africa). The Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve harbors many animals (such as duikers, big cats, and civets) and also a population of chimpanzees that use stones as tools. The Taï National Park, one of the last areas of primary tropical forest of West Africa, is home to the pygmy hippopotamus and over 10 species of monkeys.

Country Specific Issues

Protected Areas

The Comoé National Park in the north-east of Côte d’Ivoire is one of the largest protected areas in West Africa and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Covering a wide range of habitats from savannah to dense rainforest, the park is characterized by its vast plant diversity. These varied habitats are home to an array of West-African mammals, amphibians and bird species. The park is protected by various national laws, but many challenges remain particularly in peripheral areas, including poaching, agriculture and management issues.

In the south-west of Côte d’Ivoire lies the Taï National Park, one of the last remaining areas of primary tropical rainforest of West Africa. The park became a Natural World Heritage Site in 1982 due to its rich abundance of flora and fauna. The Taï National Park contains five threatened mammal species – the Pygmy Hippopotamus, Olive Colobus monkeys, leopards, chimpanzees and Jentink’s Duiker.

Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve is another protected area and UNESCO World Heritage Site in Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea. The site includes Mount Nimba which is home to over 200 endemic species, including various duikers, big cats, chimpanzees and viviparous toads. The park was inscribed on the Natural World Heritage Site In Danger list due to threats from poaching, mining and refugee movements in both Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire. Click here to learn more about protected areas.

Japan Wildlife – Highlights

Japan covers a wide range of climatic zones (its northern tip is just south of Russia’s icy east while its islands to the south reach almost to the tropics). This has resulted in a highly diverse wildlife despite Japan’s isolation from mainland Asia. There are around 130 kinds of land mammals, and over 600 bird species. Its most popular mammal is the Japanese macaque (snow monkey), the world’s most northerly monkey, and the easiest way to spot them is at the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park. To the south, on Yakushima Island, there is an abundance of plants and wildlife, including monkeys, deer and birds. It is also a major nesting spot for endangered Loggerhead and green turtles, but tourism has become a problem in recent years. Tame deer are one of the easiest of Japan’s native animals to see in the wild. In the city of Nara, near Osaka, sika deer have turned into a tourist attraction as about 1200 of them roam the city park.

Country Specific Issues

Bear Parks

‘Bear parks’, as they are known, are establishments where several bears are housed together in concrete ‘parks’, where they are forced to beg for food, to entertain the crowds. Japanese bear parks claim that they were set up to help orphaned cubs, however, even of this was once true, it is certainly no longer the case. Bears are bread to live in these overcrowded and unnatural habbitats for purely commercial reasons. Recent staff fatalities at such attractions have also demonstrated the risks caused by the creation of such facilities. Read more about animal shows, here.

Dog Fighting

Japan is the only country where dog fighting remains legal. This barbarically cruel practice involves pitching dogs against each other in a fight, often to the death. Tourists may see dog fighting refered to as ‘tōken’. Read more about dog fighting, here.

Whale Meat

Whale meat can be found in some restaurants in Japan. Tourists should look to avoid dishes called ‘unesu’ , which means they contain whale belly meat and ‘onomi’ dishes, which contain whale tail. Hunting whales is notoriously cruel and damaging to conservation, however, tourists should also be aware that eating whale meat could cause illness as it often contains high levels of toxic substances such as mercury. Read our advice on what foods to avoid, here.

Sea Turtle Nesting

The southern island of Yakushima is one of the main egg-laying areas for sea turtles in Japan, and is the only area in the North Pacific where Loggerhead turtles lay their eggs. Unfortunately, tourism has become a problem with the number of visitors increasing yearly since the island was registered as a World Natural Heritage Site. Naturally, the number of turtle viewers has also increased, and negatively affected sea turtles landing and laying eggs, and hatched turtlets. Car headlights, noise, and human shadows have caused landed sea turtles to head back to the sea. Catching sea turtles and collecting their eggs are activities governed by laws, but there are currently no restrictions on watching sea turtles. See our tips for unobtrusive wildlife watching here.

Match Report

The Ivory Coast come out strongly in this match and there doesn’t seem much Japan can do about it. The IC boasts one of the largest protected areas in West Africa, and a World Heritage site to boot, and wildlife tourists will find much to admire. Japan should perform well with a wide diversity of animals, but tourists could be put off by the bear farms, whale meat in restaurants and the treatment of dolphins at Taiji.

Final Score

Ivory Coast 2 v 0 Japan

Don’t miss the next game…