FTT defends decision to certify Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre

Fair Trade Tourism (FTT) has defended its decision to grant FTT certification to Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre.

According to FTT, it received a number of queries following the announcement. “These queries have focused on the mistaken belief that Tenikwa allows physical contact between tourists and the cats at its facility,” read a statement issued by FTT. “Concerns have also been raised around cheetah walks offered by Tenikwa which are undertaken on a strictly no contact basis.”

FTT says its certification criteria do not allow for any physical interaction between tourists and potentially dangerous wildlife such as lion, cheetah and leopard. “While Tenikwa did previously allow tourist-animal contact in some of its programmes, this ceased earlier this year. Tenikwa’s new no-contact policy was validated by an independent auditor during FTT’s comprehensive audit process,” said FTT.

To achieve FTT certification, Tenikwa had to comply with 100% of FTT’s mandatory certification criteria, which includes stipulations that a captive wildlife facility keeps up-to-date records of all animals in its care, including their history and destination, and death certificates where applicable. The facility must ensure that animals are not encouraged to behave in a way that is not natural or innate to their species, and must provide evidence that animals were not obtained from the wild, unless for a conservation need as identified by an independent conservation authority. The facility must provide the public with accurate information on wildlife conservation and animal welfare relevant to its operations.

Jane Edge, MD of FTT, said: “Tenikwa plays an important role in educating tourists about wildlife conservation in an era where many members of the public, for logistical or affordability reasons, are not able to see animals in the wild. Their rehabilitation facilities are world-class and they have done much to ensure the conservation of wildlife around Plettenberg Bay, from penguins, turtles and seals, to owls, raptors and other birds, and various species of antelope and wild cats.”