Thursday, 12 June 2014

Earthstompers on wild animal attractions

South Africa is a beautiful country, filled with great people, beautiful scenery and amazing wildlife. Tourism is growing steadily (above the world average of 4.5%) and one of the main reasons for this is the incredible wildlife we have in South Africa.

An industry that grew along with tourism is the touching, riding and interaction with wildlife.  Animals from Southern Africa and in some cases from India, Madagascar, South America are kept at these "wildlife attractions", where tourists can see, feed, touch or ride the animals. This is often offered under the pretense that a wild animal is orphaned or injured, and has been rescued for its own wellbeing.  This is true in some cases, but unfortunately in many cases, it is done for one main reason - tourism profit. 

What comes along with a wild animal being "safe" for humans to ride, touch or feed is often cruel or intense training. This is done behind the scenes, so all we as guests see is an incredible animal up close. This seems pretty neat, and it's exciting to interact with these wild animals, but we just cannot justify what it takes to make this interaction possible. 

For this reason, Earthstompers has decided not to offer animal attractions on our tours where wild animals are trained for human entertainment. We much prefer the awesome National Parks and game reserves that South Africa has to offer, where tourists can see these animals in their natural environment. We visit Addo Elephant National Park every week on our tours, where guests can see elephants, lions, kudu, warthogs, wildebeest, lions, meerkats, impalas, buffalo, and so much more.

I know many of you reading this have been on tours with us in the past where we would visit places where you could feed elephants, pet cheetahs, etc.  We must admit, it is exciting to see these spectacular animals up close!  But we have grown as a tour operator, we must look at the bigger picture, and once we have learned what these animals might go through for our entertainment, we just cannot support these attractions in good conscience. 

Please note, we are not making allegations of animal abuse at any specific attraction, and we are not criticizing other tour operators who patronize these attractions.  We are merely saying that these kinds of attractions are not in line with our ethos at Earthstompers. 

We hope you will support us in this decision!  Please ask if you have any questions about specific attractions, we will continue to make decisions as we go with the best information we have available.