Tourism and Large Carnivores

Finding a balance between economics and ecology is one of the greatest challenges is nature protection, and also in wolf conservation. The perception of the wolf would be much more positive if it brought economic benefits to the population in its distribution area, particularly through activities tied to tourism.

Global practices have shown that it is possible to make the wolf economically profitable. The best example of this is Yellowstone National Park in the USA, where the presence of wolves brings millions of dollars of revenue each year. The reason for this is that in this park, roughly the same size as Gorski Kotar and Lika together, visitors can spot wolves using strong binoculars. For the time being, this is not yet possible in Croatia. Unfortunately, the wolf is very hard to spot in the wild.

However, this is not a barrier to the development of tourism activities, as there has been interest shown by individual tourists and groups, such as those from Austria, for tourism tours to hear howling and similar activities. Signs of its presence (howling, traces) and appropriate accompanying content (publications, exhibits, lectures) can be attractive enough, especially for those coming from countries where this species is no longer found. This can also be good promotion for the country and the conservation of its natural resources.

Examples of good 'branding' of large carnivores, including the wolf, are also well known. For example, in the Pyrenees, excellent results have been obtained through the sale of products bearing a wolf paw print on the label. The development of souvenirs and products based on the theme of wolves and other large carnivores, that can be sold in educational information centres in protected areas, with the inclusion of the local population in their production, can represent a good path for the development of tourism associated with the wolf in Croatia.