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The crucial stance SA needs to take on animal encounters: ‘These practices have gone unregulated for too long’

Enriching experiences, lasting memories and itineraries that benefit not only the traveller but the communities that serve them – this are the responsible-tourism order of the day.

As a result, the contentious issue of animal interactions continues to be weigh heavily across South Africa’s travel and tourism landscape. A topic of debate for a number of years, especially with SA’s rich Big Five heritage and how wildlife acts as a draw-card to our destination. Now the issue is again being raised by Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA).

“The voice against tourism experiences that include animal interactions has grown louder and louder and this has impacted on how South Africa is being perceived as a tourism destination,” says Keira Powers, Chairperson of the Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) Animal Interaction Committee.

SATSA is in the process of conducting national public consultations workshop, as part of its Animal interactions study – click here to see the online survey – before it closes on 30 April.

“SATSA has been tasked by its members to develop guidelines for animal interactions in tourism. The Animal Interaction research is member mandated, board approved and being run in partnership with South African Tourism.” adds Powers.

This follows two months in which they hosted ten workshops across the country.

“We would like to encourage all interested parties to watch our video and to then complete a questionnaire providing feedback and suggestions.”

SATSA’s says it remains an impartial arbiter of the process as it seeks an ethics-based solution by conducting the study.

Commenting in response to consultation process Blood Lions, who has been championing the ill-effect of canned lion hunting and lion cub petty in South Africa and globally,  commended SATSA for beginning a discussion on the exploitative use of wildlife within the wider tourism industry.

“These practices have gone unregulated for too long. This has enabled a lucrative industry, encompassing the intensive breeding of wildlife for various commercial activities such as ‘cub petting’, ‘walking with lions’ and interactive filming, to establish itself on a host of facilities across South Africa.

Blood Lions says “while guidelines are a good start, the organisation is still calling for a complete ban on the use of wildlife for entertainment and human or wildlife interactions”.

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