As travellers, it’s our responsibility to ensure that our experiences and enjoyment on holiday don’t come at the expense of the communities we visit or of the environment. There are many ways we can ensure we’re more responsible travellers; we can learn about local customs and cultures ahead of visiting, use eco-friendly products where possible and leave no trace of our visit, to name a few.
Another important part of being a responsible traveller is being mindful of any wildlife interactions you might experience. There are countless organisations around the world looking to take advantage of holiday makers wanting a unique animal encounter. However, in many cases, the animal’s welfare is completely exploited and they’re sadly subjected to harm and abuse.
Sunday 3 March marks UN World Wildlife Day; a day dedicated to celebrating and raising awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. This year’s theme is “Life below water: for people and the planet”, making 2019 the first year the day has focused on marine life. According to the UN, over three billion people rely on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. They suggest a significant proportion of the ocean, about 40%, is now heavily affected by overexploitation of marine species, pollution, loss of coastal habitats and climate change.
The Travel Corporation portfolio of brands, which includes Adventure World Travel, Contiki, AAT Kings and more, all abide by the TreadRight Animal Welfare Policy. This ensures that all animal-related experiences the tour companies offer meet globally recognised animal welfare criteria.
Ahead of World Wildlife Day, the Travel Corporation
- The best animal encounter is a wild one. View animals in their natural habitat exhibiting natural behaviours and do not initiate contact with them
- Do not ride on the back of an elephant. To ‘train’ an elephant to accept riders, they are taken from their mothers at an early age and physically and mentally abused
- Avoid aquariums or marine parks where large mammals like dolphins or whales are kept in captivity. These environments are very unnatural and cause stress to these intelligent and far-ranging animals
- Do not purchase souvenirs made from wild animals such as fur, ivory, shells, seahorses, teeth, rhino horns and turtle shells
- Never participate in cub petting or lion walking experiences, as many of them breed the lions for the ‘Canned Lion Hunting’ industry, to be shot in captivity
- Do not attend festivals or attracts
that subject animalsto cruelty for entertainment, such as animal circuses, dancing bears, dog or cockerel fights, running of the bulls and any festival that causes suffering to animals
- Don’t take a wildlife selfie if the animal is being held, hugged, or restrained, if you are baiting the animal with food or if the animal could harm you
- Before riding on the back of a horse, mule or donkey, match your size to that of the animal and ensure your weight is evenly balanced when riding
- Only visit and support animal sanctuaries and shelters involving wild animals in captivity if the objectives of the organisation are in the animals best interests (e.g. re-homing, rehabilitation or release in the wild)
- Speak up! If you see an animal in distress make a note of the date, time and location as well as the type and number of animals involved. Take a photo and/or videos as proof