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: Uruguay v England

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.

England Wildlife – Highlights

Thanks to its moderate climate, as well as its numerous habitats (such as woodlands, meadows, wetlands, and heath), the United Kingdom is home to a variety of wildlife. Its largest mammal is the red deer, while its smallest is the pygmy shrew. Foxes and rabbits are often seen in the countryside, and sometimes even a badger, hedgehog or weasel can be spotted. The country shelters over 200 native bird species including several varieties of puffins. It is also a temporary home to many migrating birds, making it a paradise for birdwatchers. Seasonally, dolphins and seals can be found along the shores and coastlines.

Country Specific Issues

Zoos and Farm Parks

Given that the UK is known to be a nation of animal lovers, there is a long history of exhibiting wild animals to the public in the UK, with many considering a trip to the zoo to be a great family trip. However, like all countries the quality of the zoos does vary and there are reports of various UK zoos breaching regulations. If you are considering a visit to a zoo, click here to read more. The same applies to aquariums, please read a tourist report on Sealife Centre in Brighton here. Farm Parks – attractions where farms have opened their doors to the public and display animals – are growing in popularity, but conditions in some aren’t as good as they could be. If you see something that disturbs you, tell us!

Why don’t birds in zoos fly away? Some have their wings severed – read more from the Captive Animals Protection Society here.

“The process of pinioning involves the cutting of one wing at the carpel joint, thereby removing the basis from which the primary feathers grow. This makes the bird permanently incapable of flight because it is lopsided”

Safari Parks

There are several attractions throughout the UK which market themselves as ‘safari parks’ as opposed to zoos, typically offering visitors the opportunity to drive through the animal’s enclosure. Careful consideration needs to be taken to ensure that if you are visiting a safari park, safety for visitors and animals is being maintained, and contact is not permitted.

Circus Performances

Recently the use of wild animals in circuses has been a very contentious political issue in the UK. The Government has now indicated that a ban will be put in place before the next general election, however, for the time being, wild animals are still being used. Tourists should avoid circuses that make use of wild animals as it is impossible to transport, train and house these animals in a humane manner. To read more about Circuses and Animal Shows click here.

Badger Cull

A ‘pilot’ cull of badgers went ahead during the summer 2013 in specific areas of England. The cull is part of a government strategy aimed at reducing incidences of bovine TB in cattle, and was testing whether badgers can be culled by free-shooting at night. If successful, Defra plans to roll it out on a much wider scale. Many wildlife organisations, including Care for the Wild, oppose the plan. Scientists, who led a previous cull which killed thousands of badgers over 10 years, concluded that culling was not an effective method of tackling bTB. Tourists to England in summer 2013 may wish to be aware of which areas are being covered by the cull. For updates see here.

Match Report

Both teams are looking for maximum points in this game, and it’s going to be a tough one for England. Uruguay has been focusing on its footwork and has been named one of the top ethical destinations in the world for four years running. England is a nation of animal lovers and enjoys the sights of deer, foxes, hares and many bird species, but it can’t compete with the South American ‘birdwatchers paradise.

Final Score

Uruguay 2 v 1 England

Don’t miss the next game…