Go to Spain on a Safari tour that will leave you breathless! | WWF

Go to Spain on a Safari tour that will leave you breathless!

Posted on 31 March 2016
Javier Talegon,
Javier Talegon, Head of the ecotourism agency llobu
© Javier Talegon
1. After birds, is wolf-watching a new touristic trend?

In Spain, the Regional Game Reserve " Sierra de la Culebra " and generally throughout the northwest of Zamora is the most important Spanish area for wolf-watching. The wolf represents one of the most important economic attractions in La Culebra, attracting now thousands of visitors each year and an increasing number of foreigners too.
 
In 2012, the economic benefit associated with hotel bookings and maintenance for rural accommodation in the Sierra de La Culebra was of about 450,000€. Even some of the cottages in the nearby observation sites had bookings made up to 90% of their capacity for wildlife tourists. In comparison - revenues generated from wolf hunting in Culebra are close to 50,000 € per year.

2. What do people say and feel when they see a wolf for the first time?

For many people, to see a wolf in the wild nature is a wonderful dream. I 've seen people crying of emotion, hugging friends and sitting down on their knees to face the excitement of watching this species in nature. The mood of the participants (and of course the mood of the guide) is often completely different after having seen a wolf. It is simply breathtaking !
 
Observing wolves can connect tourists very strongly with these animals and it can contribute to their protection too. Tourists can witness a unique fragment of the life of the wolf, an animal that is so important and so difficult to observe.
 
Wolf-watching tourism, if well planned and well managed can be a powerful conservation tool to improve the image of this species in urban and rural areas.
 
This interview was done with Javier Talegon, head of Llobu ecotourism by WWF Spain in March 2016.
 
About Javier Talegón Sevillano.

Javier Talegón Sevillano founded llobu in 2013. Llobu is a company based in the Sierra de La Culebra (Castile and León, northwest of Spain), which focuses on the wolf. They use three tools, 1) environmental education, 2) outreach and 3) ecotourism in order to improve our knowledge and perception of the wolf and to demonstrate the business and rural development opportunities that exist now thanks to the wolf.

References:
  • Talegón, J., C. Espirito-Santo, S. García, M. Martín, E. de la Peña y J.L. Santiago (2012). El (eco)turismo de lobos en la Península Ibérica: una aproximación al caso de la Reserva Regional de Caza “Sierra de la Culebra”. III Congreso Ibérico del Lobo. Castrelo Branco.
  • W.W.F. (2000). Tourism & Carnívores. The challenge ahead. WWK-UK report, 26 pp. 
Notes:
Wildlife tourism is expanding in different parts of the world: Yellowstone National Park (USA), Banff National Park (Canada), Jasper National Park (Canada) and Denali National Park and Preserve (Alaska), the National Parc of High Tatras in Slovakia, the Carpathian Mountains and National Parks in Romania, the National Park of Abruzzo in Italy, the National Park of the Mercantour in France, and many more. 
Javier Talegon,
Javier Talegon, Head of the ecotourism agency llobu
© Javier Talegon Enlarge