Sunday, 19 May 2019

Wildlife tourism outside habitat



Many of us love animals. Facebook or youtube videos of cute puppies or kittens bring smile to our faces. Don't we love taking horseback ride in hillstations or camel ride in deserts? One of our age-old sunday recreation with our kids is to visit the zoo. We love taking those lovely instagram shots posing with elephants, caressing tigers, kissing dolphins or shaking hand with friendly orangutans. But do we ever think about how they must be feeling?

The dolphin that loves swimming miles and  miles in open ocean with many of its kind, the orangutan that plays and jumps from one tree to another in a vast rainforest where due to thick greenery, the ground becomes invisible, the tiger that is meant to reign at least 30-40 sqkm of a jungle full of other animals or the elephant that, along with the herd, knows no bound in the forest and would not be stopped by any barrier. Don't we realize that they are also living-breathing creatures?

Solution: say NO to wildlife/animal tourism OUTSIDE their natural habitat

The outside-habitat-wildlife-tourism has been associated with some sad, some heart wrenching, and some horrific stories all over the world. The (in)famous tiger temple in Thailand has been the center of controversy for a long time. During a raid, 40 dead frozen tiger cubs were found in a freezer. A wild tiger cannot come in direct contact with humans without stirring some reaction. So the tiger is drugged, often starved,  declawed, beaten and kept in tiny cages so that we can take that insta worthy photo. Elephant rides are common in many safaris but do we realize that the elephants are chained, sometimes in spiked shackle and made to carry tourists for their entire life. Mahout of domesticated elephants often beat them up with a spiked stick to train and control them which causes repeated painful injury. Throughout their life, these animals in captivity are exploited for profit in every way possible.

Many a times, the safari parks/zoos also have animals outside of their own natural habitat climate. Each animal has evolved for specific living conditions. When they are removed from their natural habitat and made to stay in tiny cages in a completely different environment, many times they can't adapt and die. The polar bear living in a safari park in a tropical country or a cheetah living in a cold country may not be able to live in this completely opposite climate. However nice and natural safari parks look, they are just a more natural looking smarter zoo.

Safari park/ zoo tourism is not only cruel, it also helps poachers or illegal animal traders to get a profitable market to continue their exploitation of innocent animals. On the other hand, responsible wildlife tourism in their natural habitat can help immensely in wildlife conservation by generating jobs for the locals and automatically giving them incentive to protect the animals. Those who have had the privilege of seeing some of these animals in the wild would know how majestic, how beautiful they are. When we put them in captivity, artificially make them do what we want them to do, we take that majesticity away.

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