"There have been some claims that have drawn media attention, saying that nature tourism and ecotourism can hurt wildlife and can even make wildlife more vulnerable to predators and poaching," said one of the researchers Lee Fitzgerald from Texas A&M University in the US.

The researchers said that in many parts of the world tourism protects wildlife from poaching, which is arguably the much greater threat to wildlife. They pointed out that the world's very first national parks in the US were created with tourism in mind and thousands of protected areas around the planet are at least partially justified by tourism.

It is difficult to imagine wild animals becoming so tame from their interaction with people, they lose their fear of being eaten, the researchers said. In Botswana, tour operators are bringing rhinos from South Africa for release into the wild to restore populations, study co-author Amanda Stronza from Texas A&M University pointed out.

The researchers explained that strong ecotourism programmes that keep poachers at bay. If the shield of ecotourism goes away, animals are not poached because they are tame, it is because large areas can then be infiltrated by poachers.

The article appeared in the journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution.

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