Animal Interaction in Tourism – Wake Up ZZZZ… ZA

Very few of the TGA’s readers will be familiar with a recent – now regular – online news release called “South African Tourism Update”. It does, of course, focus on tourism matters in South Africa – which it is designed to do – but it also publishes thoroughly pro-animal rights (anti-animal-use) articles which are destructive of many perfectly legitimate and tourism-related wildlife-utilisation programmes. Many of its regular authors are avid animal rightists and they are totally unconcerned that what they are doing is destructive of both our tourism and our wildlife industries. And the editor doesn’t seem to be bothered about that either.

On 14 July 2017, Tourism Update notified its readers that at its Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) conference next month (16-18 August) it will be tackling “animal interaction” in the tourism trade. It intends to feature a panel discussion titled “Animal Interactions – How do we craft a compliance process”. It goes on to say that the conference will aim to uncover the discernible and actionable outcomes for both industry leaders and Satsa. The association is encouraging conversation about compliance frameworks in respect of animal interactions and (to) find out whether there is a mandate for Satsa to take this issue further and establish industry best practice.

NB: Take note of this last sentence!

Within the news release the report says: “International (tourism) markets have recently commented negatively regarding animal interactions. Some markets have the view that supporting any animal interaction is unethical. Fynn (Lion and Safari Park) (however) said that a large percentage of visitors still wanted to experience animal interaction for various reasons, including a need for the activity, and including education.” Other than this snippet from Fynn, there has been no reaction from “our” (sustainable-use) lobby towards this or any of the other previous anti-sustainable-use postings.

What is NOT being said is that the “negatively expressed views by the international (tourist) markets (singularly Holland)” is the SOLE result of persistent pressure from international animal rights groups (especially from the Humane Society of the United States)(HSUS) and its crusaders, who have annually planted these same negative (anti-tourism) seeds into South Africa’s tourism market place. They are also poisoning the minds of tourists to South Africa with regard to those properties that practice hunting.

The idea that captive elephants in South Africa’s tourism industry constitutes “cruelty” is another uncorroborated opinion that has been relentlessly pursued by HSUS. This is also a tale publicised widely by the CEO of our own NSPCA who – despite the fact she heads our biggest animal WELFARE organisation – has also been financed by HSUS; and who is, herself, a director of an international animal RIGHTS group called WAP (World Animal Protection). “The enemy”, therefore, is walking amongst us all the time and we are oblivious to their presence.

So, through animal rights organisations like HSUS, and the South African NSPCA, the animal rights brigade have earmarked animal interaction practices in tourism, for annihilation. If they win, yet another domino on their shooting range will have bitten the dust! WHO or WHAT will be next!

Amongst the selected moderators of this debate is Colin Bell – Head of IFAW in South Africa (IFAW = The International Fund for Animal WELFARE – which is, arguably, the biggest animal RIGHTS organisation in the world). Herman Hardeman , the Manager of “Responsible Travel and Tourism” in Holland is another. He, too, over recent years, has been advising his booked clientele NOT to visit captive elephant establishments in South Africa. In that regard, he has been greatly influenced by the writings of Marcel Meredith (CEO NSPCA, South Africa) who shares these views; AND HSUS! Please take note: THIS is the way the animal rightists manipulate society into doing what they want to happen.

Yet there are many scientists and veterinarians who proclaim the cruelty charges to be false! So the animal rightists are getting away with murder because they say what they like, when the like, and they are rarely ever challenged. No wonder the general public believes that what they say is gospel. Nobody ever contradicts them!

WAKE UP SOUTH AFRICA. Here, right under our noses, the animal rights brigade is “capturing” the non-consumptive tourism industry in this country and indoctrinating everybody with its doctrine to ABOLISH all animal uses by man. We must not let this happen.

We need to send knowledgeable people to the Satsa conference in Stellenbosch next month. If we don’t, we will once again be giving these nefarious people an open playing field on which to win over the hearts and minds of South African society – without any opposition. Under those conditions, they cannot lose! Those of you in the tourism industry that practice “animal interaction” to attract tourists, therefore, will ignore this warning at your peril. And you will have no right to cry crocodile tears when your business is suddenly closed down!


Ron Thomson

I am NOT a ‘trophy hunter’ - and never have been. I am not involved in the trophy hunting safari business. I am also not a game rancher. But I have ‘administratively controlled’ professional hunters and safari outfitters in my capacity as a government game warden. I am an 80 year old ex-game warden with 60 years of continuous experience in hands-on wildlife management, and national park management, in Africa (1959 to 2019). In breakdown, I have 24 years experience in the management of national parks in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe - and in the management of the wild animal populations that lived inside those national parks; one year as the Chief Nature Conservation of the Ciskei in South Africa; three years as Director of the Bophuthatswana National Parks Board in South Africa; and I worked for three years as a professional hunter in the South African Great Karoo (taking foreign hunters on quests for plains game trophies). I discovered, however, that professional hunting was not my forte. I worked as an investigative wildlife journalist for 30 years in South Africa. I have written fifteen books and hundreds of magazine articles on the subject of wildlife management and big game hunting in Africa. Five of my books are university-level text books on wildlife management. I am a university-trained ecologist; was a member of the Institute of Biology (London) for 20 years; and was a registered chartered biologist for the European Union for 20 years. I have VAST experience in the “management hunting” of elephants, buffaloes, lions, leopards and hippos (as part of my official national park work in the control of problem animals); and I pioneered the capture of black rhino in Zimbabwe’s Zambezi Valley (1964 - 1970). My university thesis was entitled: “The Factors Affecting the Survival and Distribution of Black Rhinos in Rhodesia”. Look at my personal website if you want any further details about my experience:

Ron Thomson has 217 posts and counting. See all posts by Ron Thomson

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