Young girl feeding a wild turkey at Daintree National Park, Australia.
© Marcela Torres
© Marcela Torres
by Marcela Torres
I remember clearly in one of my trips to a national park while we paid the entrance the passengers of one of the vehicles that was waiting to go in started yelling that a fox had stolen a bag of food they had for their picnic. Understandably, they were very upset. But what made the fox commit this audacious act?
The fox that stole the food had probably been fed by tourists before and had learned that where there were tourists there was food. One of the principles of responsible tourism is to contribute to the conservation of the environment and one way of achieving this is to avoid feeding wildlife in the places you visit.
There are several problems that come from feeding wildlife, starting by the fact that animals become used to humans and to types of food that are not suitable for them. They then stop searching for food the natural way, in the case of this fox by hunting its preys, and they begin depending on visitors to protected areas.
This not only disturbs their feeding habits, but it also changes the relationships between predators and their prey and increases their vulnerability to other animals that are competitors or predators. At the same time, it affects the bonds between parents and their young and can contribute to spreading diseases for which they have no defenses.
There is also danger for tourists, since you never know how a hungry animal can behave and people may result with injuries from accidents. No matter how used the animal is to humans, you must never forget that it is still a wild animal guided by instincts.
It is important to have a responsible attitude during a visit to an area populated by wildlife, in order to avoid accidents for tourists and disturbing the behavior and natural cycles of animals. This way, the experience will be beneficial for all.
This entry was originally posted by the author on July 28, 2011.