Sustainable and Responsible travel and being responsible in all that you do while planning your safari holidays are of utmost importance. Carry that responsibility through till you are actually executing your travel plans. It is the only way forward to rebuild international travel as we emerge from this current Covid pandemic.
Are you a RESPONSIBLE tourist?
Have you acted responsibly and chosen an ETHICAL tour and safari operator to travel with?
Many companies in the tourism sector may aspire to be Ethical and even advertise that they are “Ethical”. Unfortunately, much of this is window-dressing. It is a fact that few companies believe that they can actually “afford” to be fully Ethical. The demand from the uninformed travelling public to pet a lion cub remains as a constant lure for tour operators to include animal petting excursions on their itineraries.
What does it mean to be ETHICAL? It means that as Safari Operator we are taking responsibility for the environment in every aspect. It means that we as tour operators are taking every step required to protect our people and cultures from abuse and exploitation. Most importantly, it means that we protect the environment and animals from exploitation. “Petting cute cubs seems completely innocent as an exercise, but behind the scenes, it’s very different,” according to Dr Paul Funston, Lion and Program Director at Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization.
You do not need to pet or interact with a wild animal to learn about it – that’s EXPLOITATION!
Irresponsible tourism promotes animal cruelty!
It is in our human nature to nurture. Many tourists coming to Africa wish to interact with wild animals from cats to elephants. The urge to post that selfie with a cute Lion or Cheetah cub on your lap is simply irresistible. Now consider how this cute little cub came to be in the enclosure that you have just entered. You want to play with this cute bundle of fur, but what are the consequences?
Dr Paul Funston continues, “Realistically, cubs have to be bred at a high rate for the petting demand – these cubs are NOT orphans. They are bred to be removed from their mothers at birth. They are hand-reared, often by unsuspecting VOLUNTEERS who pay a handsome price to work on these operations. When the cubs grow too big to be petted, they are used for walking experiences with tourists. As they grow older, they become too dangerous for such interactions. Now they are sold to canned lion operators, TO BE SHOT by trophy hunters who are often American and Russian trophy-hunters”. Captive-bred lions cannot be released back into the wild. These lions pose a serious threat to people and livestock due to being habituated to humans. These Lions have nowhere else to go except for a few “lucky” ones that may end up in a small enclosure in a zoo.
Ban on imports to the USA
There is currently an import ban to the USA on captive-raised lion trophies. Their bones get exported to Asia and their teeth and claws are turned into jewellery. Lion bones are passed off as Tiger bones, as they are indistinguishable. These bones will be turned into Tiger Bone Soup or Tiger Bone Wine and a lion skeleton sells for over $2000 (as of 2017). This is AFTER the trophy-hunter has paid for and departed with his “trophy” which is usually the hide, the head, and paws. At these rates, the temptation is great for the hunting safari outfitter to pass off the lion as a “WILD” lion and the trophy hunter simply doesn’t ask too many questions. Very convenient!
Responsible Travel organizations
Are you a responsible tourist? You have to do your research. Check the credentials of the tour and safari operator that you choose to travel with. Sustainable and Responsible Travel organizations such as CREST in the USA, Fair Trade Tourism in Southern Africa, and Travelife in Europe can assist. They have a membership of operations and operators that have been vetted to comply with the required principles of sustainability.
Look for their symbols and be responsible!
Announcement to ban trade in captive wildlife products
Minister Creacy, The South African Minister of Forestry, Fisheries, and Environment announced in May 2021 that the trading in captive wildlife products is getting stopped. The organization Blood Lions have campaigned for many years to have this industry abolished. Dr Louise De Waal is the campaign manager for Blood Lions and she reports that there are at least 60 facilities in South Africa that offer volunteer opportunities with big cats and carnivores. This is an industry known as “voluntourism”. Unsuspecting visitors, often from other countries, are offered hands-on opportunities to interact with the animals, feeding them and rearing the young. Arm yourself with all the information and contact Africa Explore Safaris to travel in a responsibly and sustainably manner.
To plan your Safari Vacations to Africa contact your Ethical Safari Operator