Destinations Enlighten sustainable Travel

10 Unethical Animal Encounters to Avoid • The Dark Side of Animal Tourism

Leopard On Bank Of Kafue River

Within the final two years of our travels, we’ve discovered ourselves in lots of locations famed for his or her wildlife like Africa and Asia. The travels on these two continents have been unimaginable; nevertheless, we’ve observed a reoccurring theme of questionable animals encounters particularly designed for vacationers. 

Lately it was promotions for elephant rides in Thailand, and earlier than that donkeys and camels whipped into submission to haul fats vacationers round Jordan. Then there have been the situations of caged civets in Bali for Luwak espresso or lion walks in South Africa.

To be truthful I perceive why individuals need to do issues like pet a lion, journey on the again of a dolphin or sit like a prince on prime of an elephant. Vacationers are very curious and the prospect to rise up shut and private with one other species is interesting.

The reality is that many of those animals are stored in appalling circumstances, crushed to submission, caged, and taken care of by (more often than not) inexperienced and poor locals simply making an attempt to place meals on the desk, not a zoologist or scientist. Wildlife interactions are inherently questionable as forces the wild animal to behave in an unnatural means, elephants weren’t made for rides. 

The World Animal Safety believes no less than 550,000 wild animals are struggling in unethical vacationer points of interest globally and that 110 million individuals will nonetheless go to these points of interest per yr.

It’s fairly apparent we’ve an issue right here.

In fact, I don’t consider that each one 110 million of those individuals have the intention to hurt animals. Most individuals that interact in these actions do not know that they’re mistaken. I’d wager that the majority love animals and need the most effective for them, however we love them a lot that we’re inherently inflicting them ache, struggling, and even demise. 

Sure, our want to be near wild animals could possibly be killing them. 

Leopard On Financial institution Of Kafue River

A overwhelming majority of those tourism companies are simply that enterprise they usually’re curiosity lies within the backside line, not the animal (outdoors of its means to supply revenue). If all of us took extra time to analysis moral institutions and hunt down animal conservation tasks somewhat than animal leisure amenities we might put these locations out of companies. 

Fact be advised, I’m at fault too. I’ve ridden an elephant and walked with lions prior to now. I didn’t know any higher then, I hadn’t carried out my analysis, and the web and social media weren’t as prevalent then.

I additionally had locals or the operators telling me that it was all okay to do. “Sure, we deal with the elephants,” or “these animals are rescued,” or that “human interplay is sweet for them.” The record of issues individuals will say to get you handy them cash goes on and on, they don’t care in the event that they misinform you, or they could know no higher themselves.

We need to protect animal nicely being by way of conservation, and there’s nothing extra magical than seeing an animal in its wild habitat. The primary time I noticed a sea turtle within the ocean, a hyena on the savannah, or an eagle flying excessive above in a wild forest left me speechless and made for a way more significant encounter. A big half lies in the truth that it’s sudden.

If you end up someplace if you end up assured you possibly can experience, hug, or take a selfie with wild animals you’re possible aiding to that animals struggling. There are lots of, many, animal tourism tasks to keep away from, however I needed to record a number of the commonest to dodge. Though these have particular places the place the issue is especially dangerous you possibly can apply the state of affairs to anyplace on the planet when utilizing your greatest judgment.

costa rica

Don’t Experience Donkeys in Petra, Jordan

Petra was comparatively unknown earlier than 1989 till Indiana Jones and the Final Campaign was launched. In a single day, the film put Petra on the “bucket listing” of hundreds of thousands, and tourism has continued to growth ever since. Petra at its peak was an enormous metropolis, so the location historic website stretches over a number of miles and stretches out in several instructions. A go to right here includes numerous strolling and an extended day as a result of there’s simply a lot.

Animal rides, which embrace camel, donkey and horse carriages, have been initially launched to help disabled people in traversing these lengthy distances. Over time that has modified to incorporate anybody, most of the animals are abused and a few even labored to demise.

The house owners typically have them carry as many vacationers as potential in a day whereas being whipped in the event that they cannot carry out nicely. Animal welfare isn’t a trigger for concern for most of the unbiased house owners who work on the website. Sadly, it part of their tradition, however not all really feel that method. 

Jordan’s Princess Alia Basis (PAF) was established to advertise compassion and respect for all creations, together with the working animals of Petra. It’s designed to ensure the welfare of the animals by offering them safety, similar to new stables, lighter carriages, and animal-friendly harnesses. However is it sufficient?

Once we visited Petra, animal abuse was rampant. We witnessed horse carriages carrying far too many individuals down the Siq, and donkeys being whipped to the purpose of bleeding in the event that they weren’t shifting quick sufficient. An average-sized donkey ought to carry about 50kgs on their again. We noticed donkeys carrying obese individuals simply twice their capability beneath the recent solar up steep steps.

You’ll little question be requested to journey a donkey quite a few occasions all through your day. Typically by youngsters youthful than 10, which means these youngsters are being stored from faculty and schooling with a view to flip a revenue from vacationers. Driving these poor donkeys in Petra must be prevented in any respect prices, and particularly if they’re being led by youngsters. 

As an alternative: Petra is greatest skilled by foot, the place you’ll be able to spend the entire day exploring and taking your time to admire this majestic website. In case you stroll slowly take a number of days to correctly discover and transfer slowly. It’s an enormous website and exhausting to cowl in at some point with out getting drained. If you wish to experience a camel head to Wadi Rum and trek via the desert sand.

Don’t Encourage Snake Charmers or Monkey Handlers in Morocco (or ANYWHERE)

Whereas visiting Morocco, we have been astonished on the variety of vacationers making an attempt to get photographs with the monkey handlers and snake charmers within the Jemaa el-Fnaa sq. in Marrakech. They clearly weren’t conscious of the struggling inflicted on these animals.

The so-called ‘snake charmers’ exit into the wild and illegally catch the snakes. They then sew their mouths shut in order that they’re unable to chew, however this implies the snakes solely final 2-Three days as they’re additionally unable to eat. The snakes are then disposed of and the vicious cycle begins once more.

As for the monkeys, they’re often captured within the wild and brought from their moms at a younger age, with a view to spend their lives in small cages, in chains and posing for pictures. Their tooth, and solely technique for self-defense, are ripped out of their mouth or filed down so they’re unable to chew and defend themselves towards the chains and abuse.

Whereas some vacationers willingly pose for photographs, others can typically be tricked into it. We have been on our method to discover the souks when one of many monkeys was almost thrust onto my shoulder. As soon as the animals are on you then the handlers will extort you for cash.

Fortunately, we managed to ‘shoo’ the handler away as we have been conscious of the risks behind supporting this sort of expertise. This may increasingly additionally occur to you, so I might encourage you to be agency with the handlers and decline the expertise.

My suggestion is if you see the handlers getting near you, keep a minimum of a two-meter distance to allow them to’t throw the animals on you or you possibly can find yourself like this man and get salmonella poisoning.

As an alternative: In case you are intent on experiencing some nice wildlife in Morocco, then I’d extremely advocate taking day journeys to both the Atlas Mountains the place you’re capable of see Barbary Macaques of their pure habitat or Souss-Massa Nationwide Park the place marine animals and seabirds await.

By no means Experience an Elephant ANYWHERE

India, Thailand, and Sri Lanka are usually not precisely championed in relation to accountable tourism. Actions akin to elephant rides – typically referred to as “elephant safari” to make it sounds extra unique and engaging – are nonetheless on supply, in locations similar to Amber Fort, close to Jaipur in Rajasthan, the place vacationers are invited to journey elephants to get all the best way to the hill after which entry the palace; or close to Sigiriya in Sri Lanka.

Elephants are sometimes chained, making it arduous for them to stroll round, and the mahout often walks beside the animal, poking it to make it transfer quicker. It’s fascinating to note how vacationers hardly really feel any pity for the chained animal, not giving an excessive amount of thought to using elephants for his or her mere leisure. 

Within the case of Amber Fort, elephants rides are pointless and for many who don’t really feel like strolling up the hill, you could have the choice to take a jeep. This is just one occasion, although.

Elephants all over the world are exploited for vacationers who want to journey one. Different common locations the place you possibly can journey elephants embrace Thailand, Bali, Vietnam, and some nations in Southern Africa.

I do know that many individuals who completely love elephants imply no hurt in driving them. Nevertheless, the reality of the matter is that the elephants are educated to move individuals are often taken from their mom at a really younger age.

They’re crushed exhausting to be able to break their spirit and make them simpler to coach. It’s a course of that hurts elephants deeply, each bodily (regardless of their measurement, their again isn’t “designed” to move weight) and emotionally.

Elephants are very clever creatures and this type of stress and abuse can result in psychological hurt. There are lots of locations in Southeast Asia that promote “elephant sanctuaries,” however many of those are merciless cash making institutions in disguise so do your due diligence and analysis earlier than supporting any.

Understand that elephants are wild and harmful creatures. Their sheer measurement is daunting, and in captivity, they will grow to be aggressive and even kill making elephant rides a really harmful exercise.

As an alternative: In Sigiriya and round Sri Lanka, one of the simplest ways to see elephants is by happening a safari, however be certain that to do your analysis and select a accountable safari firm. The perfect elephants safaris could be completed in Gal Oya Nationwide Park, the place these mighty animals reside freely of their pure setting.

In case you are venturing round Africa, an African safari is an implausible expertise the place you possibly can see animals of their true house. Our favourite locations for elephants embrace Zambia, Botswana, and Namibia.

Elephants Ngorongoro

There’s nothing that feels nearly as good as seeing wild elephants – Ngorongoro Crater

Don’t Purchase Luwak Espresso in Bali

Once we just lately arrived in Bali we employed an area driver to take us to our Airbnb in Ubud. It was going to be a few two-hour drive from the airport, and I used to be truthfully simply able to move out. Till he requested us if we needed to cease for espresso.

By no means one to show down espresso I fortunately agreed, however I ought to have carried out my analysis first as that is only a typical vacationer stops for drivers to make in Bali. What he introduced us to was a vacationer hell and NOT a espresso store. As an alternative, we discovered caged civets wanting depressing and lonely in the midst of the jungle.

Kopi Luwak is claimed to be the costliest espresso on the planet. It comes from the civet cat consuming cherries after which passing the seeds with out digesting them. The seeds are the espresso beans, and as soon as washed they develop into excessive greenback gadgets. Sure, Kopi Luwak espresso is actually cat shit. The actual Kopi Luwak will set you again $200-400 per kilo, or in case you are in Indonesia the place it originated from a cup could be had for about $four.

Shopping for or consuming Luwak espresso must be prevented in any respect prices because the civets are caged and force-fed espresso cherries all day. It’s a tragic unnatural life for them and shouldn’t be inspired. In case you are requested to go drink Kopi Luwak espresso politely decline and requested to have a cup of joe some other place.

As an alternative: Persist with the common espresso outlets in Bali – which you can find all over the place.

Unethical Tourism

Sure, he’s as unhappy as he seems to be

Rethink Whale Watching in Sri Lanka

I’m not going to say don’t go whale watching in Sri Lanka, however I’ll say to do your analysis and be very cautious with the tour operator you select. Ensure they’re using sustainable practices and care concerning the animals. On a gaggle journey final yr we, sadly, discovered ourselves on a seven-hour lengthy agonizing whale watching expertise which I might by no means in my wildest goals advocate to anybody.

We by no means knew that we might be on a ship for seven hours for the prospect to see a whale tail, however that’s precisely what occurred. The organizers need to just remember to see a whale and can drive hours out to sea till it occurs. Personally, I might have most popular not waking up earlier than dawn to spend so lengthy on a rocking boat.

There are numerous whale watching operators departing from Mirissa, the place whale watching could be very widespread. When certainly one of these boats sees a whale they radio to all the opposite boats concerning the sighting. Whenever you lastly do lay your eyes on a whale you’ll achieve this with many different boats of vacationers, usually simply hoarding and crowding the one or two whales within the space.

The whales are then chased round by the various boats within the space which left us all feeling very uncomfortable. I’m positive none of us want to be chased across the ocean by lots of of individuals, so in fact, a whale doesn’t both. It definitely was a little bit of circus inflicting misery to the whales and I might strongly advise towards it.

As an alternative: If you wish to see whales there are lots of locations around the globe that achieve this ethically. In locations like Tofo, Mozambique, Alaska, British Columbia, and so many extra you’ll be able to typically see whales breaching proper from shore and don’t even should pay for a tour.

Don’t Go to a Tiger Temple

The notorious Tiger Temple in Thailand was seized in 2016 after over 40 tiger cubs have been discovered within the freezer. I keep in mind when this story broke and it made me sick. Though this specific Tiger Temple has been shut down I figured I might nonetheless point out avoiding any kind of tiger temple or tiger/predator selfie vacationer attraction you could come throughout.

In case you missed it, the infamous tiger temple in Kanchanaburi was a “Buddhist temple” that was marketed as a “sanctuary” for wild animals, primarily Indochinese tigers. The Tiger Temple charged an admission charge and it’s reported it was making greater than $four million a yr in ticket gross sales. Primarily vacationers might go in, take photographs, even cuddle up on actual reside tigers. Sounds unnatural, doesn’t it? That’s as a result of it’s!

These tigers have been drugged and chained in order that they might tolerate the tons of of people who walked in daily. Tigers are like another cat .- solitary and hunters.

It’s utterly unnatural for them to be round so many individuals in a small area. If they’re on this state of affairs they could be seen pacing bag and forth which is an indication of stress. Listed here are some pictures and a private recollection of somebody’s time at Tiger Temple.

Should you come throughout points of interest the place you will get shut and take selfies with giant predators like a tiger or lion keep away from in any respect prices.

As an alternative: Take moral safaris with corporations corresponding to World Expeditions, whose Tigers, Temple and Taj tour in India takes vacationers to the Bandhavgarh Nationwide Park.

Unethical Animal Encounters Tiger

Don’t ever encourage animals in chains

Don’t Experience an Ostrich in South Africa

Sure, within the city of Oudtshoorn, South Africa you’ll be able to truly experience an ostrich. Oudtshoorn is the ostrich capital of the world and you will discover many ostrich farms round. For years ostriches have sadly been used for his or her meat or pores and skin, however these days it’s additionally attainable to experience them.

I do know it might sound humorous or kitschy, however ostriches are usually not meant for driving and can’t help the load of full-grown people on their again. In contrast to a camel or horse, they merely don’t have the skeletal construction to help such giant masses on their again.

The entire course of even seems to be unnatural and uncomfortable for people and the chook. Sure – despite the fact that ostriches can weigh 120kg kilos they’re nonetheless birds. Have you ever ever dreamed about driving a fowl? I do know I positive haven’t (in addition to a Pteranodon – these look fairly cool).

A couple of farms have just lately stopped ostrich driving as increasingly guests hunt down sustainable tourism practices. Nevertheless, it’s nonetheless potential at many different privately owned farms and I might advocate avoiding them.

As an alternative: If you wish to journey an animal a horseback journey isn’t a nasty concept. The Drakensberg mountains present beautiful views and supply guided horseback safaris. We went horseback driving with Montusi Lodge and it was unbelievable. In case your objective is to see an ostrich be a part of a safari in Kruger Nationwide Park or Gondwana Recreation Reserve.

Ostriches in Ruaha

The most effective half about seeing ostriches are watching them run! – Ruaha Nationwide Park

Select your Safari in Yala Nationwide Park Accordingly

That is one other exercise I might by no means inform anybody to not do, however like many locations in Sri Lanka, you should do your due diligence earlier than committing to a safari operator. I personally won’t ever do a safari in Yala Nationwide Park once more.  When you’ve ever been on an African safari you’ll know the entire expertise is…nicely, it’s an expertise. Often an all day, all week affair, or in our case an entire four-month affair. The safari begins at dawn the place your African information will take you to see the majestic wildlife, with espresso within the bush within the morning, and gin and tonics at sundown. The nights are often full with dinner and lengthy talks by the hearth.

We thought this can be the case in Sri Lanka’s Yala Nationwide Park, however our safari there was extra like a brief tour and a really massive disappointment. We discovered the “guides” to behave extra as a nasty driver offering little to no info apart from saying “hen” or “deer” once we noticed wildlife. The drivers in Yala drove at extremely unsafe speeds which might have harmed visitors or the animals. In simply the few hours we have been in our car our driver virtually rear-ended the car in entrance as a result of he was not paying consideration, which might have despatched everybody flying.

We additionally discovered there isn’t any cap for guests which means an enormous jeep mafia operates across the park, and the park and authorities officers appear oblivious to the air pollution and injury the variety of visitors and automobiles are doing to the park. When there’s a leopard sighting it’s engines on and mass crowds start to hoard the poor lone leopard. Sri Lanka is a really reasonably priced and accessible nation to journey via, and entrance into Yala Nationwide Park is simply $15. When in comparison with some costly elements in Africa, it’s no marvel Yala is affected by over tourism.

I want I might inform you the identify of the corporate we went with so you would keep away from them, however sadly, we didn’t deal with the reserving on this specific journey. If you’d like a superb expertise in Yala Nationwide Park remember to do your analysis, take a look at evaluations, and select an moral tour firm. Should you go together with the most cost effective and best choice I can virtually assure a mediocre and poor expertise.

As an alternative: In case you really need an incredible wildlife expertise save up for an African safari. There’s really nothing that compares to seeing leopards roam freely throughout the savannah. See our full African safari information right here.  In case your coronary heart is about on a safari in Yala Nationwide Park Jetwing Motels are a good firm to start out with.

Don’t Take part in Dolphin Exhibits or Swim with Dolphins

Dolphin exhibits have gotten extra phased out, because of the sluggish demise of SeaWorld and the documentary, Blackfish. Nevertheless, should you encounter a stay dolphin present the place dolphins are requested to do tips and flips take into account how the dolphin find yourself there. Dolphins dwelling in captivity are sometimes captured within the wild at a younger age by poachers who snatched them out of their pods. Sometimes dolphin pods are captured by nets, and the younger and females are picked out as they’re extra trainable.

This not solely disrupts their pure breeding cycle, however it additionally causes nice stress on a dolphin and the mom typically resulting in demise. From there they may spend their lives dwelling in small tanks. And regardless of how giant the tanks are they’re by no means as massive because the ocean the place the dolphins have been constructed to swim for countless miles. Cetaceans in captivity can develop extreme well being issues, together with psychosis, from swimming in small enclosures and having to carry out the identical motions for the leisure of people day after day.

The identical actual factor goes for swimming with dolphins. I’m not speaking about scuba diving or freediving amongst free dolphins, however moderately the assure of being photographed with a dolphin, pulled by means of the water by a dolphin dorsal tow, kissing a dolphin, or any exercise the place the dolphin is clearly educated.

As an alternative: Dolphins are extremely smart and social animals, and I undoubtedly perceive the need to see them, however within the wild or at respected aquariums with the intention to launch solely. If you wish to delve deeper into marine life and have the prospect to naturally swim with dolphins contemplate getting dive licensed or freediving.

We additionally had a incredible and pure dolphin sighting within the Maldives, the place boats will take you out at sundown to observe spinner dolphins dance round within the water. 

Unethical Animal Encounters


Don’t Stroll With Lions in Africa

Once we have been invited to stroll with uncommon white lions outdoors of Kruger Nationwide Park in South Africa we have been skeptical. Not solely was I afraid of being that one that wore the fallacious shade shirt and triggered a lion to assault, however I used to be not sure of the ethics of it. However, we have been satisfied by native conservationist that the lions have been rescued after their mom died they usually have been saved from being a trophy.

They have been now appearing as ambassadors to teach individuals on lion conservation. Appeared very handy, and it might be true at this specific small operation, however I nonetheless would by no means advocate strolling with lions in Africa to anybody, and gained’t be doing it once more.

We personally walked with grownup feminine white lions, however many operations use cubs for his or her strolling and should even cost extra if you wish to pet or maintain the cubs. It might appear cute, however as quickly as these cubs develop into too previous to be round all of the people they’re then despatched off to later be killed as a prized trophy. Many occasions these cubs are primarily stolen from their moms at a younger age in order that they will stay underneath human management and be prepped for vacationers. 

LionAid means that Africa’s lion inhabitants has dwindled from 200,000 to 15,000 simply within the final 50 years. With over 40% of these lions dwelling in Tanzania, different nations are getting ready to dropping their lions. Unethical lion breeding, taking the cubs, and forcing older lions into cages for use for canned searching is affecting their gene pool and hierarchy, finally serving to to result in their extinction.

As an alternative: Head out on an African safari in quest of the Massive 5. As soon as you discover your lion within the wild you’ll really feel an enormous sense of accomplishments. Seeing a lion kill is a extremely coveted sighting as nicely. If you wish to rise up near lions ethically get to Moholoholo Rehabilitation Middle close to Hoedspruit. Moholoholo takes in injured, poisoned, or deserted animals that can’t be returned again into the wild. In consequence, they’ve many Kruger Nationwide Park completely residing there and are used as champions of their species.  I additionally liked that they encourage native individuals to not hurt drawback animals and can as an alternative take them and relocate them to locations the place they’re welcome. 

Basic Tricks to Reside By:

  • All the time do your analysis and skim evaluations earlier than reserving with any firm providing a wildlife expertise.
  • If one thing appears unnatural, it’s. Animals ought to be both consuming, consuming, enjoying, sleeping, or mating. Something aside from that may be a pink flag.
  • Ignore “100% Ensures,” as nothing wild can ever be a assure and any conservationist or moral supplier will inform you this. If one thing is assured then it’s probably a staged occasion with captive animals.
  • Contemplate a visit based mostly round a wildlife conservation vacation. Biosphere Expeditions gives journeys like these around the globe.
  • It’s estimated that 110 million individuals go to merciless animal points of interest a yr. In case your aim is a selfie, rethink your objectives. Benefit from the wildlife for the expertise, not the photograph.
  • Animal points of interest all over the world label themselves as “sanctuaries,” however don’t be duped by the advertising phrase. Make it possible for these are respected corporations training sustainable tourism.
  • Accountable zoos and aquariums exist and may nonetheless be an awesome place to see animals for the primary time – particularly for youngsters. How else are younger individuals imagined to look after and respect animals if they’ve by no means been launched to them? Many zoos all over the world fund and facilitate numerous initiatives, together with breeding and reintroduction packages, and have been linked to saving and defending essential species. That being stated there are nonetheless many “dangerous zoos” around the globe the place animals are stored in horrible circumstances and exists just for revenue. Do your analysis about each zoo you’re contemplating visiting. My private favorites are the Bronx Zoo and the Australia Zoo.

A number of of our favourite operators doing GREAT conservation work are:

Need to take a look at the place you’ll be able to have moral wildlife experiences?


Hey, we’re Cameron and Natasha — We’re the top writers and creators of The World Pursuit. During the last 5 years, we’ve traveled all over the world. Allow us to ship you some nice ideas and inspiration straight to your inbox each month.

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