New SATSA guidelines discourage wildlife interactions

Posted on 27 January 2020

The SATSA has announced that its new guidelines will ban all infant wildlife interaction, walking with predators or elephants, interacting with predators or riding wildlife activities in the country.

According to Travel Africa Magazine, they hope to implement these new guidelines by the end of July 2020. This after a year-long research process into the industry.

The new guidelines acknowledge that captive attractions and activities that involve wild animals are unethical and often do significant harm to the animals involved. In addition, they also warn against facilities which may be involved in the illegal wildlife trade, canned hunting and breeding.

“The guide provides all those involved in the tourism value chain with informed method of selecting appropriate animal interaction products within the tourism sector of South Africa,” said SATSA on their website.

The new criteria is strict, disqualifying a tourism company should they break the following rules:

Have animals perform

All animals are included in this. The research found that most training techniques involve punishment and therefore are not in the best interests of the animals involved. In addition, it was found that there was no educational or conservation value in watching animals perform.

No more touching

Since they would not normally allow themselves to be touched in the wild, it was found that experiences which allow tourists to touch infant animals, land predators or aquatic mammals, cause a degree of harm to the animal. For infant animals, this includes being removed from their mother, which is harmful to both animals. For predators and aquatic mammals this would require training and handling which alters their natural behaviour.

No more walking

Much like allowing themselves to be touched, both predators and elephants need to be trained to walk safely next to humans which would likely require harmful training techniques.

No more riding

Riding, much like touching or walking, requires animals to be trained and forced to accept a human on their backs which is unnatural to them. This includes popular wildlife riding activities such as elephants and ostriches.

Update: There has been some confusion relating to the word “ban”. SATSA’s animal interaction guidelines advise against animal interactions but are voluntary and members choose to uphold them. 

Image: @kotafoundation/Twitter

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