Wildlife tourism is a specialised, yet supremely important, aspect of the tourism phenomenon. When thinking about why people like to see wildlife, it is perhaps helpful to take an historical perspective. After all, only one or two generations ago most of our parents and grandparents saw many wild animals virtually every day, and even more domesticated ones. Just 100 years ago, our planet had only about a quarter as many people as it has today, and large cities were few and far between. Wildlife was ubiquitous in the countryside, with flocks of birds so dense they darkened the sky, teeming herds of antelope migrating across the savannas, and schools of fish so thick that in some places the sea seemed solid with life.  Today, the vision of bountiful nature is seen mostly on television, and electronics has become the standard medium for many people to ‘experience’ the world’s wildlife resources. This exposes people to images of the world’s biodiversity in ways that were impossible a generation ago, though at some cost of authenticity.”

Jeffrey A. McNeely, Chief Scientist, IUCN-The World Conservation Union, Rue Mauverney 28, 1196 Gland, Switzerland.

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