Everybody wants to do their bit for the planet, right? As a company, we’ve embarked on one mighty journey to ensure that our animal trips and experiences are in line with best practice Animal Welfare guidelines. And the chances are that if you’re reading this post, you want to find out how you can do your bit too. Yep. Thought so.
We’re making a conscious effort to ensure that our animal experiences are the best they can be, but we know that there’s a long road ahead. And despite our own efforts, it is always possible that you may come in to contact with some form of animal cruelty or captivity during your travels.
We all have a responsibility to make sure that our actions don’t impact nature or cause animal suffering. Here at Rickshaw, we want to lead the way in the travel industry, to make tourism a positive force for good. That’s why we’re working with Animondial, an organisation helping bring compassion to tourism, to ensure our animal experiences are as meaningful and responsible as they can be.
Here are a few things you can do too to be more ‘Animal Friendly’ on your travels:
- Watch what you eat. Avoid trying local dishes that contain wild or illegally poached animals.
- Don’t be tempted to feed stray or community owned dogs and cats, because it could take them away from their longer-term food source.
- The best animal encounter is a wild one, so when you’re travelling always opt to see animals in their natural habitat where they can exhibit natural behaviours and don’t initiate contact with them.
- Avoid aquariums or marine parks where large mammals such as dolphins or whales are kept in captivity. Captivity cannot meet the welfare needs of these animals and often result in physical or psychological harm.
- When visiting a wildlife sanctuary or shelter, make sure that the main aim of the project is in the animals’ best interests (e.g. re-homing, rehabilitation or release into the wild). An example of this would be our trip to the Elephant Transit Home in Sri Lanka, or the Reef Guardian turtle project we support in Borneo.
- Avoid attending festivals or attractions that subject animals to cruelty for entertainment. This includes animal circuses, dancing bears, dog or cockerel fights, running of the bulls and any festival that causes suffering to animals.
- Choose not to participate in tiger or lion cub petting and walking experiences. Many places use sedation methods in order to facilitate ‘safe’ human interaction and – in the case of lions – breed them for the ‘Canned Lion Hunting’ industry, to be shot in captivity.
- Don’t ride on the back of an elephant. We have now stopped offering elephant riding excursions and that’s largely because elephants are not domestic creatures. This means that in order to ‘train’ them to accept riders, they are taken from their mothers at an early age and physically and psychologically abused until their spirit is broken. There are plenty of other more ethical immersive elephant experiences to choose from, so make sure you do your research. Take a look at our Elephant Welfare Policy for more information.
- Before riding on the back of a domesticated animal (horse, mule or donkey), ensure that your size and weight is evenly balanced against the size of the animal. For more information please visit the World Animal Protection.
Shopping & souvenirs
- Watch where you shop. We always recommend exploring a country the local way to get a true taste of the destination, but ensure you avoid visiting live markets where endangered or exotic species are sold.
- Avoid purchasing souvenirs made from wild animals, such as fur, ivory, shells, seahorses, teeth, rhino horn and turtle shell.
- Think twice about that selfie. Wild animals are often poached and confined in poor conditions, all in the name of a photo. Don’t be tempted to have your picture taken posing with a wild animal.
Don’t be shy
- Share the good and the bad. If you see any form of animal cruelty or animal distress during your travels, report it to a local authority or charity such as Born Free – making a note of ‘what’, ‘when’ and ‘where.’ Vice versa, if you spot a well-cared for animal, be sure to praise the owner, reinforcing why you would choose to support them.
- Get involved! Here at Rickshaw, we support a handful of projects across the world that benefit both animals and communities. Where you can, why not lend a hand for a project or charity that you believe in- whether its a spot of volunteering or the odd donation. Your help can go a long way.
- Spread the word. Tell your nan, tell your mates or even your next door neighbour, Gary. Encourage the people in your life to be Animal Friendly Travellers.