Wildlife tourism is on a rise since it contributes significantly to the economy. We may cuddle and pose with a wild animal and think it’s all good but what happens behind the scenes will leave you shocked. As per studies, 80% of the tourists are not aware of the negative impact on the animal welfare.
Here is the REAL cost of our holidays, most of which is paid by our animals…
(Additional Charges: Rs. 400 for holding the animal or doing some activity with it)
Animals like dolphins, tigers, elephants are being exploited by aquariums, wildlife sanctuaries and marine parks for profits. Wild animals that should be allowed to roam free in the wild are being forced to live in cages, whipped, tortured and isolated from their families. All for a selfie. What’s the harm in taking one photo, right? As per experts, the irony is that the people who love animals are the ones who think that they’re doing it for charity, to ‘save’ the animal. They assume that the money they give will be used for the welfare of these animals. This is not always true.
To ensure that they do not attack the tourists, their teeth and claws are ripped off and they’re often sedated with drugs. Before being photographed, they are whipped with a metal stick to that they roar and you get a picture-perfect shot. In 2016, 137 tigers were seized from the Tiger Temple in Thailand, after reports reflected that they were heavily sedated, beaten with sticks and kept in concrete cages.
This is not just limited to tigers and cubs. Other animals like elephants, snakes, anaconda, bears etc. have become photo props too. Even in the Amazon, anacondas are locked up in the dark, wooden crates despite the fact they need sunlight and prefer being submerged in water. This is true for crocodiles as well. These reptiles are often found dehydrated and jaws tied.
That’s the average price a tourist pays for an elephant safari to explore the jungle. But while you pay for the ride, the real price is being paid by the elephant that has been held captive, chained and tortured for years.
Every year, thousands of foreigners visit the India city of Jaipur to ride on the elephants. This demand and the resultant profits are the reasons for more and more elephants being captured. Out of the total 20,000 wild elephants, 3500 are captured to entertain tourists in form of rides, dances, tricks etc. Taken from the wild, they are constrained in small cages, fed inadequately, stabbed and pierced and made to perform in stressful activities. At these attractions, the elephants are forced to carry 900 visitors per day. When not serving the tourists, these elephants forced to stand on concrete floors for long hours which leaves severe foot sores and diseases. To add to their already miserable condition, they are made to wear heavy jewelry after drilling their ears.
‘Swim with the dolphins’ programs are conducted all over the world. The dolphin might seem happy while you kiss it, but that’s just an outside layer. The harsh reality is that these sea mammals are forcefully transported from their natural environment to small pools. Pools which are 1% of their natural habitat range. For them, it’s like spending their entire life in a locked room. The worst part? Dolphins that are seen as unattractive and therefore less profitable are slaughtered.
In their natural environment, dolphins swim at least 40 miles each day, this is not possible in a small pool. Dolphins are used to living in a natural saltwater environment, which changes when they are put in the tanks of water mixed with chlorine and other chemicals. For instance, dolphins at the Cleanwater Marine Aquarium became a subject of skin and eye diseases due to high levels of chlorine. Dolphins are also likely to suffer from psychosis, a behavior which makes them aggressive and frustrated. There were also speculations that the mother dolphin prevented the new babies from breathing by stopping them from coming to the surface because the mother dolphin does not want her babies to live in captivity.
As a result of all this, dolphins die prematurely. For example, in the wild, dolphins can live up to 50-90 years. But in captivity, they die before the age of 20, and dolphins in marine parks like SeaWorld, live for 10 years.
As per studies, at least 75% of the wildlife attractions have negative impacts on the wildlife. But, 25% do have a positive impact on their lives and wellbeing. Like sanctuaries, which have an extremely positive impact for both – welfare and conversation. As tourists, we need to do our research and choose more animal-friendly types of tourism. Travel companies like Thomas Cook and TripAdvisor too are taking bold steps like ceasing the tickets to attractions which are cruel to wildlife.