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: Mexico v Cameroon
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!
Mexico Wildlife – Highlights
Mexico is one of three mega-diverse countries of the world with coastlines on both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. With over 700 species, Mexico is the leader in reptile diversity. It also ranks highly in the mammal and amphibian categories, and is considered the fourth largest country on the planet in terms of overall species. National parks offer some of the best places to observe animals in the wild, namely Sierra de San Pedro Martir National Park (habitat for cougar, mule deer, coyote, bighorn sheep and big soaring birds), and Lagunas de Chacahua National Park (home to crocodiles, sea turtles, iguanas and dozens of bird species). Mexico’s marine parks (namely Arrecifes de Cozumel National Park and Cabo Pulmo National Park) also offer a chance to explore its coral reefs by snorkeling and scuba diving. See our tips on visiting marine parks here.
Country Specific Issues
Mexico has a lot of stray animals, which are often in very poor conditions. The population of stray cats and dogs is controlled by informal and unregulated culling, in San Luis Río Colorado, Sonora, for example, the mayor pays citizens $20 to kill strays. Methods of culling are often very cruel, typical examples include; poisoning, stabbing, beating the animal to death and electrocution. 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 a problem throughout Mexico.
Sadly, cock fights, or ‘Palenques’ as they are called locally, are legal in some parts of Mexico, such as the state of Nayarit, and take place illegally throughout the rest of the country. Tourists may well be encouraged to attend the cock fight by local guides, most likely working on commission. Typical cock fighting events feature around 30 ‘fights’. For more information on cockfighting, please click here.
Bull Fighting and Bull Fiestas
Mexico has, arguably, the most prolific bullfighting industry in the world, with at least 500 bullrings, including the world’s largest, ‘La Monumental’, in Mexico City, with a capacity of 42,000. Bullfighting spectators will sometimes be offered the chance to purchase and consume the testicles of steers killed in the bullfight. To read more about bullfighting, click here.
A notable fiesta is held on 1st February every year in Tlacotalpan, a city in the Mexican state of Veracruz. Liquor is poured down the bulls’ throats, and the animals are tied to boats and dragged across a river before being set loose in the streets. Participants then chase, beat, and stab the terrified animals with bats and knives. This continues for hours as drunken residents throw bricks and trash at the animals, kick and punch them, and cut off their ears. Surviving bulls are then turned out to pasture. For photos of this event, click here. To read more of bull fiestas see here.
Lion Cubs – ‘Photo-prop’ animals
Tourists at popular resorts such as Cancun will often come across lion cubs being used as ‘photo-props’, whereby they are charged a fee to have their photograph taken with the animals. These animals will generally be kept in small cages and potentially will not be treated well. Any claims that the money is used for conservation are unlikely to be true. This trade exists only because tourists pay, so please consider this before having your photograph taken with a lion, however cute. To read more about photo-prop animals, see here. Please sign our petition on this issue here.
Species such as white-tailed deer, wild turkey, bighorn sheep, wild boar, white dove, Canadian duck, pichichin duck, red deer, guinea fowl and ostrich, among others species are hunted for sport by so called Wildlife Management units that you can pay to be a part of. Mexico is home to over 2,000 hunting ranches, principally found in the north of the country.
As of 2002, Mexico had the second fastest rate of deforestation in the world, second only to Brazil. In Mexico today , 170,000 square kilometres (65,637 sq mi) are considered “Protected Natural Areas.” These include 34 biosphere reserves (unaltered ecosystems), 67 national parks, 26 areas of protected flora and fauna, 4 areas for natural resource protection (conservation of soil, hydrological basins and forests) and 17 sanctuaries (zones rich in diverse species).
Cameroon Wildlife – Highlights
Slightly bigger than the state of California, Cameroon has the second highest concentration of biodiversity in Africa. Its rich wildlife consists of hundreds of different mammals, a thousand varieties of butterflies and over 900 bird species. It has all the major African climates and flora (desert, mountain, coastline, savanna and rainforest). The country has more than 20 protected areas. Its most popular reserve is the Waza National Park, which covers an area of 170,000 hectares. Its mammal population is one of the largest in central West Africa and includes lions, giraffes, elephants, antelopes, as well as many bird varieties. The country is also home to the Dja Faunal Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the largest and most protected rainforest in Africa.
Country Specific Issues
Tourism is limited in Cameroon, potentially because of civil unrest, but visitors can enjoy the outstanding array of wildlife in the National Parks, especially the elephants in Waza. The Mbam and Djerem National Park is said to have the greatest habitat diversity of any protected area in Cameroon with more than 60 mammal species, 400 bird species, 65 reptile species and 30 fish species. However, this protected area is not without its fair share of issues. With 74 villages housing approximately 30,000 people adjacent to the National Park conflicting interests are inevitable.
Agriculture and farming here is done through the Slash-and-Burn method leading to extensive damage to the local habitat, with exploitation of unsustainable timber forest products and overgrazing by livestock increasing the detrimental effects that are taking place in Cameroon. Commercial hunting and hunting for the bushmeat trade is also having a negative impact on the local fauna, with animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, elephants, buffalo and bongo all susceptible to this illegal industry. Read more about bushmeat here.
Wow, what a match! Two big-hitters here – both countries are renowned for their amazing variety of wildlife and the sheer number of species that can be seen. Both are great on the attack – so it’s their defensive frailties that could decide the match. Mexico scores a major own goal with its continued support of bull fighting and other bull festivals. Cameroon though suffers from civil unrest and habitat destruction…it’s going to be a close one!
Mexico 2 – 2 Cameroon
Don’t miss the next game…