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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: Switzerland 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!

Switzerland Wildlife – Highlights

Switzerland is known for its breathtaking landscapes and world famous mountains, and most of its animal life is alpine. Although the Swiss Alps are beautiful, the winters can be very cold and make it hard for wildlife to survive. Yet the animals of this region are uniquely suited for this environment. Tourists may observe chamois and ibex (both are types of goats) as well as marmots (which live in the high meadows). In the forested areas, foxes, rabbits, deer, badgers, squirrels and many bird species (including eagles) can be spotted. The Swiss National Park is the only national park in the country. It is the largest protected area in Switzerland, and is famous for its pristine natural landscape.

Country Specific Issues

Aquariums and Dolphinariums

In March 2012, the Swiss House of Representatives voted to outlaw the keeping of dolphins in aquariums or for entertainment purposes. This was a major victory for dolphins and the organisations campaigning on their behalf. The senate also banned any future importation of dolphins to Switzerland. This means big changes for the country’s only dolphinarium, Connyland, as the three resident dolphins at the aquarium will not be replaced when they die. You can read more about visiting dolphinariums and aquariums here.

Bird Watching

Switzerland is a popular destination for bird watchers as it is home to many species, particularly in the Swiss National Park. Here, there are 6 breeding pairs of golden eagles, kestrals, ravens, Alpine choughs, capercaillie, black grouse, ptarmigan and rock partridge. In 1991, the bearded vulture was reintroduced to the park for the first time and further releases saw numbers grow to 22 birds. You can join one of the many tours within the park or visit independently and see nutcrackers, tits, the great spotted woodpecker, the wheatear and the Water pipit. It is also one of the highest recorded breeding places of the skylark. As with all wildlife watching tours, it is important to choose your operator carefully to ensure that there is minimum impact on the birds and other wildlife within the region. Autumn can be a busy time to visit due to the migrations southwards, so it is worth bearing this in mind when planning your visit. To learn more about bird watching responsibly, read our article here.

Ecuador Highlights

Obviously, the Galapagos Islands must feature here, as one of the world’s most astounding places. A unique ecosystem means that the wildlife you’ll see here is up close, personal and very unusual. From boobies to iguanas and giant tortoises, the Galapagos will be an experience you’ll never forget. Please ensure you follow every rule in terms of wildlife watching though, as the ecosystem is fragile and could be tainted by over-tourism.

Country specific issues

Animals on the menu

Cuy (Guinea Pig)  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 dolphin 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

Plucky Switzerland were always going to be up against it in this game. Birdwatching in stunning Alpine scenery gives the country a great chance to score. But they are up against the Galapagos Islands which many will find hard to beat.

Final Score

Switzerland 1 v Ecuador 3

Don’t miss the next game…