Stamp out wildlife exploitation

Stamp out wildlife exploitation

World Animal Protection (WAP) has called on the United Nations World Tourism Organisation to ensure the travel industry takes a lead role in stopping commercial exploitation of wild animals.

Ben Pearson, head of campaigns for WAP, says the tourism industry is one of the most vulnerable to disease pandemics and must be at the forefront of preventing future ones happening. ‘Central to that is stopping the exploitation of wild animals.

‘Demand for captive wildlife in tourism entertainment attractions drives captive breeding for the wildlife trade and the removal of wild animals from their natural habitats. Responsible wildlife-friendly tourism is safer and helps put and end to the horrific trade in wild animals for entertainment.’

WAP, supported by NGOs including the Humane Society International, Born Free and Animal Welfare Institute, sent an open letter to UNWTO and its partners. This followed UNWTO’s release of 23 recommendations for the global tourism industry, focused on ‘growing back better’ as the sector recovers post Covid-19. Wildlife tourism is not mentioned in the recommendations.

The call on UNWTO is backed by travel operators such as NZ Travel Brokers, Airbnb, and Intrepid Travel.

In a statement, WAP says up to 550,000 wild animals are estimated to be living in tourist entertainment venues across the world. ‘The sector must stop profiting from interaction activities such as elephant rides and bathing, selfies with wild animals, petting big cats and swimming with captive dolphins. Instead it needs to only sell and promote wildlife-friendly tourism, including genuine wildlife sanctuaries and well managed ‘observation from afar’ of wild animals in their natural habitat.

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