Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Regionally characteristic mammalian genera as ecotourism flagships  (#111)

Serban Proches 1 , Syd Ramdhani 1
  1. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa

Ecotourism is recognised as a major means of funding conservation initiatives worldwide. While bird watching has become by far the leading subcategory of specialist ecotourism, mammalian-driven tourism varies from one region to another, and primarily targets larger mammals. Some of these are branded as typical of a given region, although this is not necessarily biogeographically accurate (e.g. some of Africa's "big five" are not African endemics). In mammals, narrow endemics are often smaller species, which are more difficult to see. Regionally-widespread mammals are on average both larger and often easier to see, although it is not necessarily the same species that occurs throughout a region.  Here we argue that, even though a human construct (as is the case with all higher taxa), the genus level is easier assimilated as a brand, being often described by a single-word common name. We propose combining a measure of endemism and a measure of within-region ubiquity to produce lists of characteristic genera for each zoogeographic region, and using those genera that are suitable tourism targets as regional flagships. We provide examples for all of world's zoogeographic regions.