To some, wildlife holidays may seem like just another ‘adventure’, but in reality, the impact of tourism on the ecosystem has been more or less in the gray area. While the monetary aspect is welcome, unbridled number of visitors are often seen as a nuisance to the sustenance of flora and fauna. Which is probably the reason why regions like the Galapagos Islands have a cap on the number of visitors coming to its shores each year.
Down south is the Maasai Mara―588 sq miles of open plains, woodlands, and riverine forest, home of the Maasai tribe, and site of the Great Migration. As the grazing ground of various species of zebra, giraffe, gazelle, buffalo, and topi, the area sees a profusion of these animals, as well as their predators. Kenya, along with Botswana, Uganda, Namibia, Ethiopia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Malawi are countries that have a heavy influx of tourists each year, visiting with the intention of spotting the Big Five. The Big Five comprises lions, Cape buffaloes, African elephants, black and white rhinoceros, and leopards.
With this abundance of natural wealth, the local authorities have majorly clamped tourism businesses in the region, having realized the dangers of an unbridled number of visitors coming here. Getting to Galapagos requires extreme persistence, not to mention a rather loaded wallet, but if and when you do, count yourself among the lucky few.
The biodiversity of the Amazon is unparalleled. From vampire bats to piranhas, they all call this dense jungle and its river and streams their home. Thousands of insect, mammal, bird, and plant species have been identified in the region till date―but with the Amazon, there are a lot more waiting to be uncovered.
The finest way of exploring the rainforest would be to take a cruise down the Amazon river. There are quite a few lodges along the riverside as the river flows into Brazil. Staying here is a great way to intimately experience the ways of the wild.
We know how we’ve been harping about the ‘unique’ biodiversity of each region this far in the article. However, the uniqueness aspect couldn’t be more true in the case of Madagascar, as over 90% of the region’s wildlife is unique to the island―you actually cannot find it on the rest of the planet. The lemur, for instance, is endemic to the island, as are the carnivorous fossa, various species of snails, and butterflies.
However, what makes Borneo unique is the fact that this forest is one of the few bastions of the endangered Bornean orangutan. It also provides shelter to many endemic forest species, including the Asian elephant, Sumatran rhinoceros, Bornean clouded leopard, Hose’s civet, and the dayak fruit bat.
Unfortunately, though, relentless deforestation and human interference has led to the rapid decline of the delicate ecosystem in the region.
The Yellowstone Park is the largest and most famous mega-fauna location on mainland United States. Wildlife enthusiasts coming here hope for a glimpse of grizzly bears, wolves, herds of bison and elk, along with the endangered lynx that live in the park. Other rare animals to be spotted in the park include the very elusive mountain lion and the wolverine.
Around 2 million visitors come to Yellowstone each year, making it one of the most popular national parks in the United States.
The Arctic is not new to human inhabitation, but Antarctica does not have any permanent residents.
Those looking to catch a glimpse of the Giant Panda in the wild should visit the Foping National Nature Reserve in Shaanxi Province. Note that these shy creatures are notoriously hard to spot in the wild, and it may take a few days of relentless wandering through the reserve. You’ll stand far better chances at Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center in Sichuan Province, a place dedicated to the cause of preservation of the species.