Watching animals in their natural habitat may seem harmless, but it can have serious consequences for the conservation status of wildlife. More than 1,400 species listed as Endangered and Critically Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature are threatened by tourism. This can be a consequence of habitat destruction caused by tourism development or disturbance caused by tourists.
Consequently, we need to find ways to manage these activities so that the targeted wildlife can continue to thrive and the businesses that depend on it can remain economically viable. This is not an easy task.
The first obstacle on the path to managing nature tourism sustainably can be overcome by harnessing the power of the internet and social media. We can use this data to identify areas where wildlife is under strong pressure from recreational activities and intervene, perhaps preventing any significant impacts on the wildlife. We can also investigate whether nature recreation is helping countries to achieve biodiversity and sustainability targets, such as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. For example, we can look for associations between nature tourism growth and progress towards biodiversity and sustainability goals in different countries.
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