Amuse­ment, or ‘abuse­ment’?

While Bali and sur­round­ing hol­i­day hotspots may prom­ise a bliss­ful es­cape for tourists, it’s far from par­adise for cap­tive wild an­i­mals held there at tourism venues, as a new re­port shows.

Good - - SOCIAL JUSTICE - Words Natalie Cyra

Con­nect­ing with na­ture and en­joy­ing ex­pe­ri­ences dif­fer­ent to the ev­ery­day are what many of us seek when we travel, and up close en­coun­ters with wild an­i­mals is of­ten an ac­tiv­ity on our bucket lists. Such mo­ments make for mem­o­ries shared, as well as a great In­sta­gram post… but at what ex­pense?

Wildlife tourism, when prop­erly man­aged, can have many pos­i­tive ben­e­fits, pro­mot­ing con­ser­va­tion and the wel­fare and pro­tec­tion of dif­fer­ent species and their en­vi­ron­ments, while po­ten­tially al­le­vi­at­ing poverty and bring­ing busi­ness to lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. On the other, more likely, hand how­ever, many venues in­volve op­er­a­tors who ex­ploit wildlife for profit in ways that lead to suf­fer­ing, habi­tat de­struc­tion and species de­cline.

Of course, the odds are you’ve only ever vis­ited a wildlife at­trac­tion be­cause of your fond­ness and re­spect for an­i­mals. But tourists, de­spite our best in­ten­tions, can of­ten be mis­led into be­liev­ing a venue is do­ing the right thing. For ex­am­ple, many venues may tes­tify to be­ing “con­ser­va­tion driven”, or “kind to its an­i­mals” when re­ally, this couldn’t be fur­ther from the truth. And the lat­est re­search from World An­i­mal Pro­tec­tion in­di­cates just that.

The Wildlife Amuse­ments Parks re­port high­lights World An­i­mal Pro­tec­tion’s Novem­ber 2017 re­search into the lives of hun­dreds of cap­tive wild an­i­mals in parts of In­done­sia. A to­tal of 26 wildlife venues were sur­veyed dur­ing Novem­ber 2017 in Bali and sur­round­ing is­lands Lom­bok and Gili Trawan­gan. The ma­jor­ity of these were venues of­fer­ing wildlife tourism en­ter­tain­ment (think sad­dled ele­phant rides

and shows, selfie op­por­tu­ni­ties with orangutans and the chance to swim with dol­phins) while a small num­ber of fa­cil­i­ties fo­cused pri­mar­ily on an­i­mal res­cues.

Dur­ing this time, World An­i­mal Pro­tec­tion ob­served more than 1500 an­i­mals, in­clud­ing 62 ele­phants; 48 pri­mates, 15 tigers, 13 dol­phins, nearly 300 sea tur­tles, 80 civet cats and var­i­ous other species. While smaller venues of­fered some­what more in­di­vid­ual ex­pe­ri­ences, other larger scale venues housed high pro­file an­i­mals (tigers, ele­phants) that were used through­out the day in in­ter­ac­tion with large au­di­ences.

The re­search high­lights the bleak­est of sce­nar­ios: a stag­ger­ing 100 per cent – ev­ery sin­gle venue – failed to meet the needs of an­i­mals in cap­tiv­ity.

Some of the most dis­turb­ing find­ings in­cluded four bot­tlenose dol­phins be­ing kept in one pool only 10x20m and three me­tres deep. At 30 per cent of dol­phin en­ter­tain­ment venues, dol­phins have had their teeth filed down or re­moved en­tirely to pre­vent po­ten­tial harm to swim­mers.

Fur­ther­more, while ele­phant en­coun­ters and rides may look like harm­less fun, all of these sit­u­a­tions ex­pose the gi­ant an­i­mals to stress and painful train­ing to be con­trolled, and nearly 15 per cent of ele­phants ob­served dis­played stereo­typ­ies – ab­nor­mal repet­i­tive be­hav­iours which in­di­cate dis­tress or suf­fer­ings – such as sway­ing and foot shuf­fling.

Among the key wel­fare is­sues were ex­treme re­straint through chains or cages, lim­ited op­por­tu­nity to nat­u­rally so­cialise with other an­i­mals; par­tic­i­pa­tion in stress­ful and po­ten­tially harm­ful ac­tiv­i­ties, as well as there be­ing non-ex­is­tent or in­suf­fi­cient vet­eri­nary care and in­ad­e­quate nutri­tion and diet for many of the an­i­mals.

Enough is enough

Ben Pear­son, se­nior cam­paign man­ager for World An­i­mal Pro­tec­tion, says, “The grow­ing de­mand for harm­ful wildlife selfies, shows and en­coun­ters is a se­ri­ous an­i­mal wel­fare is­sue in Bali and sur­round­ing is­lands.

“Across the world, and through­out Asia, wild an­i­mals are be­ing taken from the wild, torn away from their fam­ily groups, or bred in cap­tiv­ity, to be used in the tourism en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try.

“Forced to en­dure painful and in­ten­sive train­ing to make them per­form, and to in­ter­act with peo­ple, they live their en­tire lives in cap­tive con­di­tions that can­not meet their needs. A life in tourist en­ter­tain­ment is no life for a wild an­i­mal. It is in­her­ently cruel and abu­sive,” he says.

The truth hurts 100 per cent of the 26 wildlife venues sur­veyed by World An­i­mal Pro­tec­tion failed to meet the needs of an­i­mals in cap­tiv­ity.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.