AVOID Tactile interactions with infant wildlife

#ThinkBeforeYouGo: If you are given the opportunity to touch, hold, feed or play with a wild baby animal in captivity in any shape or form, the activity is unethical according to the SATSA guidelines and should be avoided.

Why avoid tactile interactions with infant wildlife?

  1. Infants are removed from their mothers prematurely
  2. The animals don’t have freedom of choice
  3. The animals are forced to exhibit unnatural behaviour
  4. It serves no educational value
  5. It serves no conservation value

Removing infant animals from their mothers prematurely is extremely stressful, unnatural for both the mother and the infant, and can lead to long-term health issues. It is not in the animal’s best interest to remove an infant from its mothers for human gratification.

Wild animals are naturally fearful of humans and any tactile interaction between a wild infant animal and a human is unethical.


#ThinkBeforeYouGo: AVOID Performing animals

The first one of five groups of captive wildlife activities to AVOID, as highlighted by the SATSA guidelines, is supporting facilities which keep and/or profit from performing animals.

Why avoid activities with performing animals?

  1. The animals don’t have freedom of choice
  2. There is unnecessary hands-on training and handling involved
  3. The animals are forced to exhibit unnatural behaviour
  4. It serves no educational value
  5. It serves no conservation value.

In order to perform in a public show or display, the animal would have undergone some form of training, often involving corporal punishment, tethering and/or food deprivation.

Performing animals may include: elephants, predators, primates, cetaceans (aquatic mammals such as dolphins and whales), birds and reptiles.

Why were the SATSA Guidelines created?

The SATSA Guidelines and Decision Making Tool were created around an ethical framework with an African approach, which recognises the importance of Ubuntu and the relationship between animals, the environment in which they live, and their connection to humans.

The guidelines state that “the interests of animals should not be subordinate to the benefits humans derive from their existence”. Meaning, if a captive wildlife facility clearly prioritises human interest(s) (which can be financial, gratification, entertainment, information) over the animal’s wellbeing, it can immediately be considered unethical.

Which captive wildlife tourism activities would you say can immediately be deemed as unethical, and which are in the grey area for you? These are questions that are often not easy to answer and may be different for many of you. SATSA created their guidelines and tool to make these decisions easier and more objective.

BREAKING NEWS: Public participation has been reopened for the draft Policy Position

22 September 2021

The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) have reopened public participation regarding the draft Policy Position on the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros.

Blood Lions, FOUR PAWS, World Animal Protection, Born Free Foundation and Humane Society International – Africa have jointly created a petition asking the public to urge the South African Government to follow through on its plans to further the protection of its iconic species.

Following the High-Level Panel recommendations and Minister Creecy’s announcement on 2 May 2021 that South Africa would no longer breed captive lions, keep lions in captivity, or use captive lions or their derivatives commercially, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) gazetted a draft Policy Position on the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros.

The public comment period on the draft Policy Position has been extended to 14 October 2021 and we are calling on members of the public to submit their comments or simply sign the petition in support of the Minister and DFFE’s transformational policy shift.

Minister Barbara Creecy and her Department are implementing a New Deal for South Africa’s people and wildlife and your support is required to ensure vibrant, inclusive transformation of the wildlife sector, rural socio-economic development and the safeguarding of our iconic species.

The Minister is unfortunately receiving significant opposition from a minority of industry players currently benefiting from exploitative and unethical industries which she is seeking to phase out and ultimately end. It is therefore imperative that we unequivocally support the Minister and DFFE in this transformational shift and encourage the urgent completion of the consultation process and finalisation of the draft Policy Position on the conservation and ecologically sustainable use of elephant, lion, leopard and rhinoceros.

Unpacking the SATSA Guidelines

In 2019, SATSA drew a firm line in the sand concerning captive wildlife attractions in South Africa’s tourism space, which is a dynamic concept based on ethics.

They identified activities with captive wildlife to avoid, such as wildlife interactions and circuses, which also included captive breeding of big cats, canned hunting and the trade in animal body parts.

Their stance is also aligned with the High-Level Panel sentiments that were recently published in a draft Policy Position paper by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.

Join us over the next few weeks as we dive deeper into the world of ethics and wildlife tourism.

Not a fan of hunting lions? Then you’re not ‘truly African’

This is an excerpt from an article written by Nica Richards and published online by The Citizen on 14 September, 2021

Conservationists and hunting associations are at loggerheads once again, this time over the appointment of a board member who is in support of the ‘ranch hunting’ of lions.

The Tourism Business Council of South Africa’s (TBCSA’s) recent appointment of a new board of non-executive directors has, according to conservation body Lion Coalition, the potential to bring South Africa’s already shaky tourism industry to its knees.

This is because one of the TBCSA’s new board members happens to be the Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa (Phasa) former president, Dries van Coller.

This may not seem like a contentious issue to the ordinary citizen, but for conservationists, in lieu of Phasa’s stance on captive lion breeding and hunting (also known as canned hunting), this decision does not sit well.

The Lion Coalition’s is appealing to the TBCSA to reconsider its appointment of van Coller to the board, as the council serves as “a key conduit between the public and private tourism sectors in South Africa and brings a fragmented private sector under the TBCSA umbrella.”