There are a few things that get me really angry….
You see, I had a little
‘run-in’ massive rant at a friend the other day because following their own rant about Cecil they followed it up with a typical Thailand elephant selfie. And I screamed. Literally, out loud, in a hotel lobby. And now posh hotels don’t want me back…
I never started blogging to tell people what to do, but maybe I can get one or two people to start thinking differently.
You see. My view is simple. If an animal is being made to do something it shouldn’t / doesn’t want to then, quite simply, that’s wrong. Thats what I call Animal Cruelty.
And my main argument for any counter argument is this: We are meant to be the wiser race, the greater species. Aka, we have brains.
Potentially, we as people who can afford smartphones, flight tickets and far too many guidebooks might also be a bit more clued up about it than those in the places we visit. (Disclaimer: I wasn’t always either)
The ‘Elephant selfie’ Situation
It’s (worryingly) almost become a right of passage for those who visit SE Asia. The Elephant selfie, sat on the back of one of those big beautiful animals. Four people in a heavy seat, laughing and snapping away because, you know, thats what Elephants were put on earth to do – Be tourist attractions. Fuck no. Mountains, beautiful parks, incredible man made sculptures – yes, tourist attractions. Animal rides, I don’t think so.
A pretty graphic picture which shows a baby elephant being ‘broken’ so they can be trained can be found here and the guys over at One Green Planet have written a great piece on ‘Elephant Artists‘ which you may want to read.
How about spending that ride dosh on learning about them and watching them in the wild? Even mega travel companies such as Intrepid have now banned all elephant rides from their tours. Good work guys!
The ‘trash entertainment’ issue
Rubbish, especially in the developing world, is one hell of a major issue and sadly one I see being ignored all too often. That bottle you threw on the floor, it’s gonna be a monkeys dinner. The can you left on the beach post the party is sure to be a fishes coffin…
Sadly, many countries do not have a proper recycling scheme in place so minmize your waste and be careful where it goes and help protect those we share this earth with. The warnings about sunglasses in Monkey Parks are there for a reason, I for one don’t find it amusing watching any animal eat man made plastics. Nor should we be teaching these little guys by stealing they are gonna get a nice bag of food.
The ‘well behaved’ big cat theory
They are not. They are big, suppose to be wild, animals. They are not meant to be on a chain in a street market selling photos for a dollar. No. We all did kindergarten animal books right?
The ‘I need to support the community’ ideology
Yes. Good on you. Tourism should have a great impact on the places we visit and as such we can help to shape what that ‘tourism’ looks like in the future. I get it, we all stop riding elephants (reminder: it is not actually a right we have) or having photos with tigers then what happens to that community or even the animals?
We could try looking at it another way. We pay, but to feed the elephant instead. We pay, to go on a safari around an amazing protected tiger park. We pay, the community continues, the animals are happier and animal tourism is re-shaped. I’ll drink to that!
The ‘money makes prisoners’ business model
Baby orphanages, turtle hatcheries, animal hospitals… Let me stress, many, many of these do the most incredible work and should be applauded, supported and given shit loads of loving. But sadly, as with everything in life, some people are in it for the dollar.
Research is key here and there is no denying it’s pretty hard to be sure and opinions will always be split (famous point in case: tiger temple). The sad reality is that, just as a phone shop needs phones to keep business coming through a door an ‘animal orphanage’ without no animals ain’t gonna pull the crowds. Essentially, some evil arseholes will make animal orphans, keep sick dudes sick or, well, just be scum in other ways.
The ‘I’m setting it free’ dilemma
It kinda follows on from above and man it’s a toughie. Animal tied up, in shops, boxes on the side of the street, little pups, monkeys on chains… It breaks my heart. But as with any business model supply and demand is evil here. You save that monkey, they know that’s a good seller. I for one am still torn on really what to think of this… Little tears.
The ‘But that’s the traditional way’ argument
Yes, maybe, for the people you are visiting. It used to be traditional to burn witches, but we eventually moved beyond that. In some countries its traditional to eat dog, but I’m kinda sure you won’t be trying that.
There are hundreds of points that could continue those examples but I’m trying to underline if someone needs to get somewhere on horse because that’s how it’s always been then we can’t stop them and maybe time will change it. What we can do is stop heaps more being bred just to Satisfy our tourism needs.
And the worse ‘I know it’s awful’ byline
Post rant. The ‘I know it was wrong but…’ Insert reason excuse ( Everyone else was doing it, it was part of the tour, I thought it was just tame…)
And then, not only did you do it and know it was wrong. You STILL post it on Facebook to show it off. Do you know who else posted shit on Facebook to show it off? A certain American dentist – But he doesn’t even think it is wrong!
Look, I’m not comparing tourists jumping on an elephant to someone who hunts animals and let’s them suffer a painful death but, and graphic content warning follows, there was some suffering that came before jumping on board that elephant (tragically and heartbreakingly) this video shows that.
So I introduce to you the best way to proceed: The ‘stop and think’ approach
I visited Mount Bromo last week, it was awesome. But it was also the basis for this post. You see, I had decided to spend an hour breathing in sulphur. The horses many were riding, that do the journey day in day out didn’t get that choice.
I’m also pretty sure if people stopped and thought about that they might have come to the same conclusion as me. Whilst donning face masks and taking protection, There’s three simple questions you can suss it out with
1) Would I do this if I wasn’t abroad
2) Would I do this if no one else was doing it?
3) Is something suffering for my benefit?
Cause I’m pretty sure most people DO have hearts and DO care and DO want to helps make a change in the world. Cecil has certainly recently proved that.
And there is a hell of a lot of good charities, conservationists and groups that do good incredible work that yes you should support and get your amazing animal encounters and close up shots with!
Perhaps I’m wrong, it’s just my opinion after all but it kinda all seems to make sense to me now.
I’m not gonna lie. When I first took a trip to Asia, with no real interest in traveling or any research I jumped up onto an Elephant. We both were back off it pretty quickly. My friend I rode it with is now vaccinating and teaching locals around Bali about animal care still years on.
It’s not about judging what has been done in the past, it’s about learning from our, and others, life lessons.
Maybe, we as a community can start to make a difference. Education is where it’s at and research is king. Start spreading the love.