Another important part of being a responsible and sustainable traveler is being animal friendly and protect the wildlife interactions you might experience. There are many ways we can ensure we’re more responsible travelers such as learning about local cultures and customs, using eco-friendly products where possible and leave no trace of our visit.
Wild animals are captured across the world and taken from their natural habitats or bred in captivity, and suffer a lifetime of cruelty and abuse.
Travel companies around the world profit from some of the cruelest types of wildlife tourist attractions on earth. And because the demand for animals in the entertainment industry is so high, these animals continue to be used and abused for profit in ever-increasing numbers.
The demand for wildlife entertainment attractions has been growing globally and there are countless organizations around the world looking to profit from it. People visit wildlife tourism attractions because they love animals and many are completely unaware of the suffering that occurs behind the scenes.
World Animal Protection and World Expeditions have partnered for wild animals to be kept in the wild, safe from unethical tourism.
Top 10 Tips to Help You Be An Animal Friendly Traveler
Research the places where you are planning to visit. A quick Google search will provide you with more than enough information to help you to make the decision or not to visit.
Only visit and support animal sanctuaries and shelters involving wild animals in captivity if the objectives of the organization are in the animals’ best interests
Use Trusted Operators
An increasing number of adventure tourism providers have shown interest in establishing protocols to ensure their offerings are free from animal cruelty. There are a number of things companies can do to evaluate the wildlife attractions they offer for potential cruelty, educate their customers, and focus more on-demand toward more animal friendly experiences.
Say “no” to elephant rides
Don’t ride on the back of an elephant. To ‘train’ an elephant to accept riders, they are taken from their mothers at a very early age and physically and mentally abused. They’re chained, hit with clubs spiked with nails and hooks.
Do not support the training that uses elephants to train them for you. Independent has a really nice article why tourists need to stop riding elephants.
Save The Selfies For The Humans
Don’t take a wildlife selfie if the animal is being held, hugged, or restrained. According to this article from Right Tourism suggests, once asked, tourists were far less likely to take a photo once they knew the consequences.
Be careful when shopping for souvenirs
Don’t purchase souvenirs made from wild animals, such as shells, seahorses, fur, ivory, teeth, rhino horn, and turtle shell.
Ensure you avoid visiting live markets where endangered or exotic species are sold.
Feeding stray animals is not always helping
Don’t feed stray or community-owned animals, because it could take them away from their longer-term food source.
Avoid visiting aquariums with large mammals
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.
Limit Your Wildlife Encounters to The Wild
Don’t initiate contact with animals and view them in their natural habitat exhibiting natural behaviors. Remember that animals do not exist for our entertainment, so avoid any animal-related performances dancing bears in the street or animals use in circuses for example.
These animals have been trained via often cruel or violent methods to perform for tourists.
Before riding on the back of an animal such as horse, mule or donkey
Before riding on the back of a horse, mule or donkey match your size to that of the animal and ensure that your weight is evenly balanced when riding.
If you see during your travels an animal in distress, make a note of the date, time and location as well as the type and number of animals involved and report it to a local authority or charity such as Born Free. Take a photo and/or videos as proof. Share your story with friends and family, on social media.
March 3 marks UN World Wildlife Day – a day dedicated to celebrating and raising awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants.
I hope this article will make you think twice next time you are going on vacation and try to avoid visiting placed where wild animals are held and be a more animal friendly traveler and still enjoy your vacation. Responsible wildlife tourism can contribute positively to local economic development, biodiversity, and ecosystem and wildlife conservation
Want to learn more about other sustainable destinations or tips? Check out section sustainable travel.