How Ecotourism Is Changing The Amazon As We Know It

Without a doubt the Amazon River Basin is the most biodiverse place in the world. The Amazon is roughly the size of the 48 states in the USA. With it housing so much biodiversity it was deemed to need protection from people who would do it wrong. Jaú National Park is located in Brazil, it is known as the largest national forest reserve in South America. The creation of the national park was to have protection on species within the ARB as well as helping those people financially that are located in those communities. But the biggest issue with the creation of these national parks is that it creates a market for income.

Originally animals would roam the Amazon unbothered by people, but since ecotourism has become a staple source of income now things have changed. Canoe tours are led up and down the Amazon river like toys on a factory conveyor belt. The Brazilian guides scout the area and plot out the perfect route depending on the season so that the tourist are able to see these species. Now I know what you may be thinking “what is the harm with a few tourists taking some pictures.” There is more to it then just that, tourist are coming in contact with species that would have never interacted with one another before now. The guest are said to be “at the tip of the conservation spear in the Amazon” putting a price tag on their originally invaluable wildlife.

On the other side ecotourism may be saving a particular species in the Amazon river. The pink river dolphin, also known as the boto, are being slaughtered in the Rio Solimoes. The rotted boto flesh is said to be the best tool to catch a species of catfish, the piracatinga, which is popular in Colombian dishes. In the Rio Negro there are a few areas offering tourist the chance to swim with the dolphins for a price. There are some that question whether it is right to allow people to swim with these dolphins but biologist see it as the best means to protect them. They want those that are fishing the boto to see that they are a more lucrative asset if they are left living and used for the tourist. Whether this is ethically right or not it does have potential to save a species. Ecotourism is a double edge sword and may have more bad than good or vice versa but we must admit that it has changed the ARB.



3 thoughts on “How Ecotourism Is Changing The Amazon As We Know It

  1. Elizabeth White

    I found it interesting that one of the main way to protect the boto is to allow tourists to swim with them. It’s sad to think that you have to put a price tag on a rare and beautiful species just to save it. It is understandable that the fishers would like to hunt them for their mean to catch the other fish but at the same time, if the dolphin is so rare, as is the fish, they should leave the both of them alone. The Amazon River Basin is so large that it is such a wonder to the world, but if you let everyone in, it ceases to be a wonder.

  2. Ellen Oppenheim

    Something that you did very well in this piece is try to approach it from both sides. You made your point, but also saw the benefits of the latter. This is what makes a strong argument. Your thesis that ecotourism is bad and ruining the biodiversity, but also somewhat good due to the the economy it brings seems a little flawed to me. The only reason I say this is because you only use the one example of the Boto. More examples might provide a better conclusion if this economic uproar would be worth it in the long run. As you stated and questioned, is it really not abusive to allow people to swim with the Boto? It seems to be like that would disrupt their habitat as well. But I suppose that it’s far better then them getting killed off for fishing. Really great post, made me think a lot.

  3. Sarah

    I really enjoyed reading your post because I don’t really know much about the Amazon, but it’s cool to see the similarities between our projects. I chose to do research on how tourism in China has affected the Buddhist culture and I find ours to be similar is the fact that both China and The Amazon River Basin are wonderful places in the world to visit but if everyone is let in, some things could be destroyed. I also agree with you in the sense that there is more to tourism then tourists coming in to take some pictures. For you, it is with species and can be harmful. But for me, it could potentially be tourists not taking the Buddhist religion as serious as it should be taken and I believe these two reasons to be dangerous for many attractions around the world. I respect how you brought in the fact that Ecotourism works as a two way street. There are obviously benefits and threats to almost everything, but putting the positives of swimming with the Boto and the negatives of Ecotourism in your paper really solidifies the research you have done and I believe it makes your piece more relatable to everyone. I agree with Ellen that some more examples in your final paper would be super beneficial and would pull everything together super well. This was a great post, and definitely made me want to learn more about Ecotourism.


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