Fair Trade to launch captive wildlife guidelines

Fair Trade Tourism (FTT) will release its captive wildlife guidelines in early July to assist the travel industry to make decisions about which captive wildlife facilities to support and which to avoid. The guidelines will differentiate between different types of captive wildlife facilities, discuss issues around specific animals in captivity, give examples of good practice and make recommendations about activities to avoid. 

Based on the four pillars of animal welfare, conservation, visitor safety and transparency, the guidelines include a suggested questionnaire that tour operators can use to assess captive facilities. They have been developed as an extension of FTT’s certification criteria, which were adapted in 2016 to address issues around the volutourism and captive wildlife sectors.

FTT MD, Jane Edge, said risks to human safety, animal welfare concerns and confusion over conservation benefits had created a critical need for guidelines. “Issues around captive wildlife are in the global spotlight and many tour operators are confused about what constitutes good, acceptable and bad practice. The private ownership of wildlife in South Africa in particular has led to different permutations of wildlife management which are complex and sometimes opaque.”

With hundreds of captive or semi-captive wildlife experiences now offered in southern Africa, the incidence of death and injury was likely to remain high without adequate safety precautions in place, said Edge. “In the last three months alone in South Africa, a woman was killed by a captive lion, a lion-park owner was badly mauled by his own lion and a photographer was killed by a habituated giraffe. Animal abuse and negative impacts on wildlife conservation are also of huge concern – this is not helped by the legality of practices such as canned lion hunting and the lion bone trade,” she said.

FTT has consulted more than 50 organisations to inform itself about the complex interplay between conservation, education, research and animal welfare in the captive wildlife sector. “In order to ensure that our guidelines align with global good practice, we have taken much of our steer from ABTA’s Animal Welfare Guidelines, while adapting these to the specific of the southern African environment. We believe we are well-placed to offer considered guidance to the marketplace on some very thorny issues.”

FTT’s Captive Wildlife Guidelines will be made available from 2 July. Organisations who would like to comment on the draft guidelines can contact jedge@iafrica.com prior to 15 June. Travel industry members interested in obtaining the final guidelines or a presentation from FTT can contact shona@fairtrade.travel