Impact of Tourism on the Ecosystem

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In a study on the impact of tourist vehicles on the Maasai Mara Reserve in Kenya carried out in 1990, it was discovered that for the cheetah, it rarely fed during peak driving hours; furthermore, it waked off when any vehicle approached closer than 21 meters. When the lion was investigated, its peak feeding hours was when the tourists’ vehicles went back to their lodges for launch or to rest; it also fed early during the morning and late during the evening in areas most frequently visited by tourists. In another case, when the lions were surrounded by tourists’ vehicles who were trying to get good shots of them, they did not show much concern, but for the cheetah, it increased its walking pace when the vehicles were few, the leopard was mostly on the trees but if on the ground, it would walk away quickly. It was concluded that vehicles were interfering with animal activity, and particularly their mobility. This restricted movement would interfere with activities like searching for prey, mating and taking cover. (Gakahu, 1992) (Gakahu, Chris G. (Ed.). 1992b. Tourist Attitudes and Use Impacts in Maasai Mara National Reserve [Kenya]. Wildlife Conservation International, Nairobi, Kenya) Other cases of disturbances were observed in birds such as the flamingoes. Consumption of wildlife by tourists could have a great impact on the local population.

With regard to vegetation, trampling and camping by tourists has a diverse effect on the ground layer vegetation. It was observed that tourists’ vehicles in the Maasai Mara left trucks and criss-cross the grasslands as they chased after elusive animals. This eventually leads to the degradation of the grasslands and development of multiple trucks. In a study, it was shown that the driving of vehicles in the grassland resulted in increased loss of vegetation cover on the parallel strips (wheel-tracks) and turning radii loops (Muthee, 1992 in Gakahu,...
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