Leave wild animals in the wild!

Elephants for Pic a day 2

How natural is this? Note the sticks.

I’m duplicating an entry on my touring website’s blog because the message needs to be spread as far and wide as possible.

I’ve just come back from a 10-day trip with tourists and was outraged and saddened at some so-called ‘wild animal encounters’ that these people insisted on doing – and which the agency in their country happily provided, in total ignorance or apathy. I used to think feeding elephants at a specific game ranch in Oudtshoorn was okay but now that I know it’s connected to riding elephants, it’s a complete no-no.

Wild animals that are used for close encounters with humans have been broken from a very young age to stop them from doing what comes naturally – being wild. They are beaten and tortured into submission. They are removed from their parents before their eyes open. They are placed in cages. They are taken to regions where they have to adapt to unnatural surroundings. They cannot find their own food so have to be fed. They are given food that is not in their normal diet. They are forced to do things that are unnatural and are kept in check with sticks and threats.  At some stage they become aggressive and have to be ‘retired’ – what do you think that word means for an animal?

They are brutalised by humans for financial profit and then discarded when no longer useful. Some of the places that offer this have the nerve to advertise it as ‘a natural experience’!! The staff have been fed a script to field questions. It’s all complete lies and if you probe hard enough, they will admit it’s not true. Why do they keep doing it? They need a job and it’s hard to find a good one.

Some people are shocked to learn the back-story to these activities and will never do it again but some just don’t care because money is more important.  The solution is simple : South African tour operators could simply refuse to book these activities and explain politely why they are refusing. The result will be that reserves and breeders will have no demand and will be forced to stop. It’s as simple as that, isn’t it? Probably not but I will never do it again and will refuse to take such bookings. If I’m with a group and it’s already booked, I will not take part and I will not keep quiet.

lions for pic a day

Directing the lions into the perfect spot for a photo opportunity. Sticks, sticks and more sticks.

Elephants for Pic a day

Everyone standing around to feed juvenile elephants apples and pineapples.

ostriches for pic a day

This is also not exactly natural but at least the ostrich has not been tortured and one can argue that ostriches are bred for the same purpose as cattle – for meat and skin.

About Francoise Armour

I run a small touring company (Tours du Cap) at the bottom of Africa, to show visitors the beauty and vibrant culture of the country I have lived in since my parents brought me here from France as a child. I enjoy taking photos and wish I had learnt to do it properly. I enjoy writing but don't do enough of it. I enjoy walking in the mountains that surround me and I marvel over the views and the flowers and the amazing rock formations. I have a small, cute, clever, black dog of indeterminable breed, named Vida, who reminds me regularly that walking and getting out is not only for when tourists want it.

One response to “Leave wild animals in the wild!

  1. There is demand for such encounters, fuelled no less by the quest for the best “selfie” with some unfortunate beast in the frame. I’m with you on this one, and cannot avoid the obvious parallels with so-called “cultural tourism’. It’s all so terribly contrived and is to be avoided at all costs.

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A note to all accidental visitors:

I am not a photographer and do not claim to have any particular skills whatsoever in that department. I have enormous respect for those who can see the potential in a scene and can create a great photo. Good photography is an art, in my opinion.

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