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Inadvertent impacts of adventure tourism on wildlife

Many adventure tourism activities have no deliberate interactions with wildlife, and animals do not form part of their advertised attractions, but they may still cause impacts on the animals, whether they see them or not. Indeed, adventure tours which do not feature wildlife are perhaps more likely to cause such impacts than those which do, since the latter need to be aware of their effects if they are to approach the animals closely enough for a good view.

The impacts of various outdoor recreation activities on marine mammals, on birds, and on other wildlife, respectively, were reviewed by Higham and Lusseau (2004), Buckley (2004c), and Buckley (2004d). Impacts of particular adventure activities such as horse riding or off-road driving were reviewed by Newsome et al. (2004a) and Buckley (2004b).

Information is also available on the impacts of adventure activities in particular ecosystems, notably the polar areas (Forbes et al., 2004; Snyder and Stonehouse, 2007). Some activities, certainly, can have severe population-scale impacts on particular animal species in a very short period. A single light-aircraft flight over a colony of white pelicans in Canada, for example, caused the immediate death of 88% of the eggs and chicks as the parent birds took flight in panic (Bunnell et al., 1981).

The majority of impacts, however, are much more subtle and may occur cumulatively over a period of time. This applies, for example, to activities which disrupt the energetics of particular animal species, such as wildlife feeding for overwintering, or birds feeding for migration.

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Animals do indeed have a role in adventure tourism; or more accurately, a number of different roles. There are tours where wildlife are the primary attraction, but where the process of watching them is itself adventurous. There are adventure tours through wildlife habitat, where animals form a significant subsidiary attraction. There are tours which use particular transport, access, or other technologies, normally associated with adventure activities, to watch wildlife

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