Net effects of ecotourism on threatened species survival
Many threatened species rely on ecotourism for conservation funding, but simultaneously suffer direct ecological impacts from ecotourism. For a range of IUCN-Redlisted terrestrial and marine bird and mammal species worldwide, we use population viability analyses to calculate the net effects of ecotourism on expected time to extinction, in the presence of other anthropogenic threats such as poaching, primary industries and habitat loss. Species for which these calculations are currently possible, for one or more subpopulations, include: orangutan, hoolock gibbon, golden lion tamarin, cheetah, African wild dog, New Zealand sealion, great green macaw, Egyptian vulture, and African penguin. For some but not all of these species, tourism can extend expected survival time, i.e., benefits outweigh impacts. Precise outcomes depend strongly on population parameters and starting sizes, predation, and ecotourism scale and mechanisms. Tourism does not currently overcome other major conservation threats associated with natural resource extractive industries. Similar calculations for other threatened species are currently limited by lack of basic population data.