Nearly everyone on the planet would love to see animals and wildlife in their natural habitat with plenty of the space and the resources they need to survive on their own. The problem is that this level of nature conservation is expensive. Leaving land free from development comes at a price. One solution to the expense of providing animals with protected areas is to use tourism as a way to fund the existence of the park. The advantages of this approach to nature conservation are that the protected area becomes affordable, if not profitable, and therefore the long term survival of the protected area is more assured. It also allows humans to interact with wildlife and see these animals in their natural habitats. This kind of exposure can lead to a lifelong appreciation for the importance of nature. The drawback to this approach to developing protected areas is that the human impact because of the tourism has a serious environmental impact. A look at several international examples will demonstrate how the balance between the advantages of using tourism to fund conservation and the disadvantages is a delicate and precarious balance. Recent moves towards sustainable tourism may offer the solution that both tourist and environmentalist are looking for.
The Serengeti National Park in Africa is a great example of the pros and cons of environmental tourism. The unique correlation of undisturbed habitat and fresh water lakes has attracted large number of many different unique animals that are distinct to Africa. The fresh water is such an attraction that the Serengeti National Park was developed to protect the land that these animals are coming to. The park offers several safaris that attract countless international tourists every year. The Serengeti has been able to add many improvements within its borders, and thus attract even more tourists. The problem is that the tourists have made a definite impact on the area. The litter, garbage