Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Science




Dr. Liana Zanette


Researchers have reported that the presence of ecotourists may displace or disturb wildlife with potentially adverse effects, and may be a more serious problem if wildlife perceive ecotourists as predators. I used a playback experiment to test if wildlife at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, perceive ecotourists as predators. I contrasted wildlife behavioural responses to vocalizations that simulate those of ecotourists to those of local predators (positive controls; dogs and the extirpated native apex predator, leopard) and a non-predator (negative control; insects). Using responses from 14 mammal species, I show that wildlife do not perceive ecotourists as predators, responding no more fearfully to ecotourist vocalizations than to insects, but demonstrating persistent aversive reactions to local predators. My results suggest limited impacts of ecotourism, but negative impacts of dogs and leopard extirpation on the Bwindi wildlife community. Future research should test the response of individual species of conservation concern to ecotourism.