It’s time for the semi-finals. The tension is high…and as Brazil have found in the real World Cup, there is no room for error. Who will make it to the final of the World Cup for Wildlife? Not just the country that is best for wildlife tourism, but also the country that doesn’t have practices, traditions or activities which harm animals. So who’s going to make it through to the Final..?

Next up: Uruguay 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!

Uruguay Wildlife – Highlights

With a name meaning “river of the colorful birds”, it is no wonder that Uruguay is a bird lover’s paradise. Rocha Lagoon is a major ecotourism attraction, and has become known as a birdwatching hot spot. It is home to over 200 bird species including flamingos, doves, herons, ducks, and more than 10,000 black-necked swans. Other animal species can be found in the area such as otters, capybaras, and seals, however large mammals are rare within the country. Uruguay is also known for its incredible beaches, lagoons, and forests. Even though Uruguay created a National System of Protected Areas only recently (in 2000), it has made great strides. In fact, the prestigious publication Ethical Traveler has named Uruguay one of the ten most ethical destinations in the world for the fourth consecutive year.

Country Specific Issues

Forested Parks and Protected Areas

Uruguay houses six national parks and eight protected areas comprising low temperate forest and marine life. However, 90% of the land is agricultural, reserved particularly for cattle raising – with one of the highest livestock reproduction rates in the world. Uruguay’s reforestation measures have appeared to be successful, however there are concerns over loss of primary forest at the same time as increased overall forest cover. Already wildlife such as jaguars and giant otters are thought to be extinct in Uruguay due to habitat and prey loss. Cerro Verde has recently been designated as a new Marine Park as an important habitat for juvenile green turtle, whales, dolphin and breeding seabirds.


Particularly popular with tourists, the Leguna de Rocha is a large protected wetland, home to black-necked swan, storks, spoonbills and waterfowl. Birding tours are offered just north of the capital Montevideo, at either the mountainous Pan de Azúcar or via boat at Piriapolis to view a variety of sea birds. Read more about birdwatching here.

Marine Activities

Sitting between Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay is often overlooked, leaving much of its pristine beaches empty. Punte de Este is the most popular destination, with an influx of tourists at its peak of January to March described as ‘a St Tropez for the southern hemisphere’. Next door are two protected marine areas at Isla Gorriti and Isla de Lobos, which boast a protected population of fur seals and sea lions alongside a range of marine activities. Yachts, speedboats, jet skiing, fishing, snorkeling and diving are all popular in the region. Find out how you can ensure you do not disturb this ecosystem and keep your marine activity impact low 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

Although situated at opposite ends of South America, both Uruguay and Ecuador offer spectacular animals and incredible sceneries, and it will be a heart-stopping match to the very end! A bird watching paradise on one side and one of the world’s most famous wildlife-watching destinations on the other – all eyes will be on the goalies to keep the issues of habitat loss in Uruguay and swimming with wild dolphins in Ecuador at bay.

Final Score

Uruguay 2 v 2 Ecuador

Another tight one, nothing in it. It’s gone to extra time… It’s going to come down to the star power of Ecuador’s Golden Boy, Galapagos. If Galapagos wasn’t there, then Ecuador could have gone the way of Brazil without Neymar. But Galapagos is there…

Uruguay 2 v 3 Ecuador after extra time.

Ecuador are through to the final…where Costa Rica awaits!

Don’t miss the next game…