Use volunteers to deter tourists from harassing marine and freshwater mammals at wildlife-viewing sites
Overall effectiveness category Likely to be beneficial
Number of studies: 1
Background information and definitions
The presence of an authority figure at wildlife-viewing sites may deter tourists from harassing marine and freshwater mammals. The use of official-looking volunteers may be a cheaper alternative to using paid enforcement officials.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A randomized, controlled study in 2008–2009 at a waterfall of the Ohau Stream, New Zealand (Acevedo-Gutierrez et al. 2011) found that the presence of an official-looking volunteer resulted in fewer tourists harassing New Zealand fur seals Arctocephalus forsteri than when a volunteer was not present. The number of tourist groups in which at least one tourist harassed seals was lower when an official-looking volunteer was present (14 of 108 groups, 13%) than when a volunteer was not present (56 of 146 groups, 38%). A total of 19,102 tourists visited the waterfall in 254 groups (108 groups with volunteer present, 146 groups without). The official-looking volunteer wore a neon vest and sat on a rock on a viewing platform located 500–1,000 m from a waterfall visited by seal young from a nearby breeding colony. Tourists harassed seals by approaching, touching, or throwing objects at them. The behaviour of each of 254 tourist groups was recorded by a hidden observer on 68 random days at random times between October 2008 and June 2009.Study and other actions tested