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Does flagship species tourism benefit conservation? A case study of the golden snub-nosed monkey in Shennongjia National Nature Reserve

Abstract

Tourism has been widely used as a conservation strategy that directly compensates local people or management authorities, thereby contributing to development and creating incentives to preserve the landscape. Reserves or parks that are inhabited by flagship species may be able to generate more revenue through tourism than those without such species because flagship species have great potential for raising funds and creating publicity for conservation goals. In this paper, we examine flagship species tourism focused on observing the golden snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus roxellana) in Shennongjia National Nature Reserve (SNNR). After the program was launched in 2006, both the number of tourists and amount of revenue received by SNNR increased as the general trends of tourism revenue in the country also increased. As a result, SNNR significantly increased reinvestment in tourism and conservation infrastructure. Furthermore, after senior politicians visited the golden snub-nosed monkey, they abruptly changed their attitudes toward biological conservation, as indicated by an increase in both regular and additional funding for the species conservation. We conclude that flagship species tourism may not only generate revenue for conservation and management but also can improve officials’ attitudes toward preserving biodiversity. However, it is important to ensure the continued safety and sustainability of such programs, from both the human and animal perspective, and we suggest stricter measures are introduced to reduce the risk of aerosol disease transmission from tourists to the monkeys.

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Correspondence to Ming Li.

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Xiang, Z., Yu, Y., Yang, M. et al. Does flagship species tourism benefit conservation? A case study of the golden snub-nosed monkey in Shennongjia National Nature Reserve. Chin. Sci. Bull. 56, 2553–2558 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11434-011-4613-x

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11434-011-4613-x

Keywords

  • flagship species
  • tourism
  • Shennongjia Nature Reserve
  • Rhinopithecus roxellana