The call of the wild – and the wildlife in it – is a powerful one. But as the dark truth behind many wildlife tourism activities becomes ever clearer, the case for responsible tourism has never been stronger. Acknowledging we should be more responsible, however, is only part of it. Learning what this means, and putting it into practice, is key.
“The important thing to keep in mind is that wild animals are not entertainers.If you want to see thepenchinternational wildlife on holiday, the best thing you can do is to find somewhere to see it in the wild. The next best option is seeking out a legitimate sanctuary that offers observation only, so the animals are free to display their natural behaviors.”This might sound restrictive, but nothing elevates a wildlife experience more than the knowledge that the animals involved are as comfortable to be in your presence as they make you happy to be in theirs. Here are some handy tips to ensure you don’t upset the balance.
Keep your distance and avoid opportunities to interact
It’s not easy to resist our instinct to get up close to wildlife. Scientists even have a name for it – the biophilia hypothesis – which suggests that humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature. But keeping your hands off is usually always in the best interests of the animals involved.”If a tourism venue offers the opportunity to ride, touch or get a selfie with a wild animal, there’s a very good chance that animal has been treated cruelly,” says Pearson. Animal shows, elephant rides, captive dolphin swims and interacting with big cats are more widely publicized examples of tourism experiences that animal welfare experts claim compromise animal welfare, but plenty of other seemingly harmless interactions can have a similarly devastating impact.