SATSA, the South African Tourism Services Association, has announced that within its new guidelines, which are set to come into play in July, a ban will be placed on all infant wildlife interactions, walking with elephants or predators, interacting with predators, and riding wildlife. These guidelines will be applicable across South Africa.
This comes following a year-long research process involving the industry and activities relating to these kinds of wildlife interactions.
The guidelines note that these captive wildlife attractions and activities are not only unethical but they also do harm to the animals. SATSA also warns that some of the facilities involved in these wildlife interactions might also be involved with the trade of illegal wildlife, breeding and canned hunting.
The new criteria set out is applicable to all listed with SATSA and should a tourism company fail to comply they will be disqualified. The new rules to be followed include:
All wildlife is included in this criteria. Research found that training techniques often involve punishment and that this training services no purpose when it comes to the best interests of the animals. Furthermore, there has been no proven educational or conservation related value when it comes to watching animals perform.
Part of numerous wildlife tourist attractions relates to touching the animals. But since wildlife would not naturally allow themselves to be touched, it was found that touching wildlife, whether they are infants, aquatic animals, or land animals, could cause harm to the animal. With the infant animals, being removed from their mother is harmful to both the mother and her child, while the predators and aquatic animals require a degree of training and handling to change their natural behaviour to tolerate touching.
No wild animals would naturally allow a human to walk beside them, it goes against their nature. Walking with wildlife would require the wildlife to be trained which in turn means the animals would experience harmful training techniques.
Riding requires the wildlife to be trained which in turn means the animals can be harmed as they are forced to allow a human to ride on their backs, an act that is very much unnatural. Industries which will be affected by this new rule includes those offering elephant and ostrich rides.