Us Brits are some of the biggest animal lovers in the world, so it’s no surprise that when travelling we want to see the local wildlife. However, as travellers we are now more aware than ever the impact that can have on the animals themselves and the issues it can create such as cruelty and wildlife theft. But don’t let that put you off from getting out and seeing the local wildlife, just take steps to ensure you’re doing so in an animal friendly and non-exploitative way.
We get it, it can be confusing to know what is ethical and what is posing as such, for example a lot of facilities that allow you to get up close and personal with wildlife call themselves sanctuaries, but are actually exploiting the animals. If you don’t want to add to the exploitation and would like to see some cute animals whilst also helping to fund research or rehab then here are our top tips…
We cannot stress this enough! Do plenty of research into the destination you’re visiting, it’s animal welfare laws and then into the places where you can visit wildlife. As we mentioned above a lot of places present themselves as sanctuaries but aren’t. We find that blogs make a great port of call for information as does the WWF website.
Another way to know what to look out for is to be aware of the abusive schemes such as dancing bears in Turkey, the use of donkeys for hill rides in Santorini, animals used on the streets for entertainment, swimming with dolphins, elephant rides or any kind and circuses featuring animals. There are many more and most are location dependant, so be aware of the schemes in the area you’re visiting so you know what to avoid.
When it comes to companies or sanctuaries make sure you know everything there is to know about them. Information should be readily available if the company are truly ethical, details about where funds go, past projects, where the animals were obtained, how they spend their time and what will happen to the animals in the future should all be easy to find and easy to understand.
If you’re looking to book a group tour or visit, make sure your tour group numbers are kept small. Larger numbers can cause undue stress to animals as can a lot of noise or over-excitement.
When it comes to tours then guarantees should be looked upon with caution. The beauty of nature is its unpredictability. Tour companies or sanctuaries shouldn’t be able to guarantee that you will encounter a lion up close for example, and if they are doing so then you have to wonder at how they can guarantee that.
One of the most popular wildlife pictures in recent years is that of people with tigers, many of which are sedated or abused. If someone is offering you the opportunity to take a picture with an animal for money, then the animal is being exploited and likely involved in some form of cruelty.
Have you taken a trip to an ethical sanctuary for animals? Drop us a tweet and let us know what you thought - @icelollyholiday! Until next time.