Ecological tourism has no effect on the presence of large mammals in the Amazon, according to a study that for the first time compares the biological diversity of ecotourism zones with that of protected areas. Furthermore, it can help to protect the biodiversity of areas that are not officially protected yet are vital in the ecological framework.
Since the UN began to promote ecological tourism at the end of the 1980's as a way of protecting the environment without resorting to its economic exploitation, the debate as to whether ecotourism is really beneficial has remained alive.
Aiming to answer such questions, two Spanish researchers spent four months in the middle of the Amazon to assess the presence of large mammals in Bonanza, a private estate used for ecotourism within the Manu Biosphere Reserve. The results of their study show that not only is ecotourism harmless to the biological richness of the area but it could even have a positive effect on the biodiversity of surrounding areas.
The study by Salvador Salvador (University of Gerona) and Miguel Clavero, (Doana Biological Station-CSIC), in collaboration with Renata Leite from Duke University's Center for Tropical Conservation, has been published in the Mammalian Biology journal.
In their analysis of the Bonanza estate, the researchers found 41 species of large mammal out of the 48 species that have been documented in the whole reserve. According to Salvador, "we could not find any way in which the richness of species has been affected. No species sensitive to the presence of humans was lacking and although we were unable to calculate population density, species like the tapir (Tapirus terrestris) or the huangana (a local way of referring to another type of wild boar, the Tayassu peccary) were abundant, even compared to virgin forest areas.
As the study lasted for four months, the researchers were also able to compare the presence of fauna during the dry and
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology