The lifeblood of wildlife tourism – your photos

I just had to get something down about this subject. Seeing no easing up in the amount of people posting smiley holiday pics with dolphins, elephants, tigers, etc., has left me feeling so horribly frustrated, and for a multitude of reasons.

It’s not just the fact that the obvious cruelty should be enough to stop what I previously considered intelligent, halfway compassionate people, indulging the wildlife tourism bit of their annual holiday. It’s not even the fact that as far as posts about animal welfare go, wildlife tourism is up there with the most shared and most prolific across social media. What really and truly gets me is the effect that the photos, not even the act, has on others and the obliviousness to it or brazen disregard by those posting them.

It “justifies” it in so many way, which in turn, perpetuates it. It makes others in their facebook friends list think “they did it, so we will too”. It makes people embrace that abandonment of responsibility that holidays elicit. It makes people cling to the “it was just a one-off” mantra that they think somehow makes it ok. And there’s the problem. When it’s a photo that you’re proudly parading around your social media channels, it no longer becomes a one-off. It endures. It reaches so many people. It inspires so many others to do the same. It supports that narrow-mindedness that has people thinking that they can commit the same cruelty-supporting act as their friend did because their friend did it already.

Now the guilt trip

I’m not a fan of guilt trips when it comes to vegan posts on my site. I don’t think they’re particularly effective – people giving up a lifestyle they currently lead needs a different, more empathetic approach. However, when it comes to wildlife exploitation I will take no prisoners. That’s not a lifestyle change. It is not difficult to avoid contributing to the cruelty of using wildlife for entertainment. It’s not difficult to explain to your kids that it is not the way to see wild animals. It’s not difficult to find other things to do on holiday. This mindset is what perpetuates the wildlife tourism industry, and yes, if you had your photo taken with a captive tiger, went to a dolphin show, rode an elephant, got a selfie with a loris, you supported the demand for heinous abuse. There are ways to see these animals in the wild and contribute to keeping them there. To choose anything else is utterly shameful.


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