Implementation of Lynx-based Tourism to Provide Benefits for Local Communities and Lynx Conservation
Large carnivores often cause damages to local communities, leading to lower tolerance of the species. Wildlife tourism can provide direct benefits for local communities and is one of the possible mechanisms to achieve higher local acceptance. Responsible wildlife tourism can generate an alternative income source, facilitate development and diversify tourism opportunities in the local area, while raising awareness and promoting species conservation. Moreover, wildlife tourism has a potential to instil an emotional connection to nature and create a platform for human engagement in conservation of the endangered species.
The story of lynx extinction, reintroduction and reinforcement offers a unique opportunity to develop new niche tourism products much needed in the large carnivore areas of Slovenia, Italy and Croatia, where tourism and good nature interpretation facilities are still underdeveloped. Currently there are no large carnivore visitor centres, and interpretive signs are often installed sporadically and don’t offer stories that would stimulate visitor’s interest.
Ecotourism and educational opportunities will be developed. These may include: painting holidays led by renowned artists to promote conservation of lynx through arts; thematic lynx trails equipped with actual lynx release enclosure and illustrated interpretive signs that present messages about crucial challenges of lynx conservation; and guided trans boundary lynx walks that emphasize the importance of trans boundary management of lynx. These efforts will reach new audiences–from locals, wildlife watching enthusiasts, nature lovers to art-oriented people–facilitating new public dialogue and reaching different target groups who can engage in lynx conservation.