Nature and wildlife tourism

Nature and event tourism

Our research has segmented, and profile visitors to selected national parks in the country identified visitors’ interpretation needs and advocated for the important role that national parks play in educating visitors to encourage conservation efforts. Other notable projects include investigating the biltong- and trophy hunting industry as well as rhino poaching in South Africa.

Captive wildlife experiences

Conservation management is a crucial aspect of captive wildlife establishments including zoos, sanctuaries and rehabilitation centres. The research provides valuable insight regarding management practices, marketing strategies, and interpretation preferences of visitors to enhance captive wildlife experiences. Current projects include:

  • The National Zoological Garden of South Africa (Pretoria Zoo)
  • The Johannesburg Zoo


Natural area tourism

Natural area tourism (NAT), is the amalgamation of nature (the natural environment of the earth, its plants and animals) and tourism (travel for recreation, leisure and business purposes). The primary objective of NAT is to embrace viewing nature. It encompasses four pillars, forming our research's key focus area, namely ecotourism, wildlife tourism, geotourism and adventure tourism. Within NAT, we at TREES searched for answers mainly to three research questions:

  1. What are NAT's impacts (economic, environmental, and social)?  
  2. What is the travel behaviour (travel motives, interpretation needs, memorable experiences, product development) of tourists to natural areas and experiences?
  3. Who is the natural area tourist?


Ongoing planned future research within the four pillars (ecotourism, wildlife tourism, adventure tourism and geotourism) of NAT, include:  

  • Ecotourism: Explore entomophagy as possible ecotourism product.
  • Wildlife tourism:  The impact of COVID-19 on the private wildlife industry of South Africa.
  • Adventure tourism: The development of hard - and soft skills of adventure gap year participants.
  • Geotourism: Investigating who the tourist to geosites is, as well as their travel behaviour.