FTT calls on tourism industry to prevent wildlife abuse

Fair Trade Tourism (FTT) has called on SA travel companies to help prevent wildlife abuse following a new report by World Animal Protection stating that 550 000 captive wild animals worldwide are still enduring cruelty for tourism entertainment.

The new report, Associated with Cruelty, is based on research conducted by Professor Xavier Font of the University of Surrey and reports that only six out of 62 travel trade associations worldwide provide information on the importance of animal welfare. ABTA (UK) and ANVR (Dutch Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators) are the only travel associations to have animal welfare guidelines. By contrast, 16 associations feature pictures of wild animals being used as tourist attractions and interacting with tourists in their literature.

FTT developed Captive Wildlife Guidelines earlier this year in consultation with 200 organisations to tackle specific issues around captive wildlife in SA. “In SA alone, there are 8 000 lions in captivity versus 4 000 free-roaming wild or managed lions – this is an industry that is rife with animal welfare issues and doing tremendous harm to Brand South Africa,” said FTT MD, Jane Edge.

Edge said there were genuine wildlife sanctuaries, rehabilitation centres and orphanages that were doing good work and deserved support. “However, it is not always easy to discern between the good, the bad and the ugly. We urge tour operators to use our guidelines to interrogate the practices of wildlife facilities based on the core pillars of animal welfare, conservation, human safety and transparency. We need to stop supporting captive facilities that demonstrate poor practice and animal abuse. We need to unite as an industry and start developing SA as a leading responsible wildlife tourism destination,” she said.

For a copy of FTT’s Captive Wildlife Guidelines, email Shona MacDonald at shona@fairtrade.travel