Home to a staggeringly abundant variety of flora and fauna, South Africa -- having emerged out of the shadow of apartheid -- is witnessing a resurgence of its tourism industry; the country has more than 870 bird species and 290 species of mammals. This, of course, has led it to recognise the importance of preserving its wildlife and their habitat.

There are 17 enormous national parks in South Africa. Apartheid, with its general atmosphere of unrest, had kept the numbers of foreign tourists visiting the country to an insignificant trickle. The new South Africa is waking up to the importance of ecotourism and the involvement of the blacks in national efforts in conservation. For example, in the Phinda Resource Reserve, local people cull potentially dangerous non-native trees from the park, turn them into charcoal and sell the result profitably.

In a recently held 3-day ecotourism conference in Sun City, Ian Player, noted conservationist and saviour of the white rhino, said: "People have grown weary of travel without purpose. We need to reintroduce the concept of travel as a pilgrimage, so it will have meaning again."

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