For many, one of the most exciting possibilities when jetting off to an exotic location is the chance to get up close and personal with tigers and other protected animals, but itís opportunities like this that are actually supporting animal abuse and causing unnecessary harm to the individuals involved.
Care for the Wild animal charity is calling on tourists to say no to taking photos of themselves with wild animals with their ‘No Photos, Please!’ campaign in an effort to highlight the devastating impact that such images have on wildlife.
Animals are Not Photo Props
Using animals as photo props is an issue that has recently come to attention in light of the reckless craze of tiger selfies which has caught the mediaís eye.
This craze has seen a whole string of photos posted on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook of people hugging tigers, lying on top of them and even holding cubs.
What most people think of as harmless fun actually holds much more sinister undertones, and ones which only end up perpetuating animal suffering.
Animals around the world are used as photo props, where tourists pay a small fee to have their photo taken with them. From monkeys in Marrakesh to lion cubs in Cancun, the stories behind these photos hide a dirty secret.
The Sickening Trade Behind The Photos
Travelers seeking photos with wild animals to use as their latest Facebook profile picture need to be alerted to the unsettling trade going on behind the scenes.
The reality is that these animals have often been illegally poached from the wild after being torn away from their mother, with her being killed in the process. They then have their teeth ripped out and are declawed in an attempt to make them less threatening, before finally being kept in squalid conditions so they can be used as a tourist attraction to turn a quick profit from unsuspecting victims.
According to Care for the Wild, for every wild animal caught and sold for the photo prop trade, 50 die in the process.
The Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi, Thailand is a prime example of a popular tourist destination with a dark side. Little known to visitors, The Tiger Temple, which describes itself as a sanctuary, is home to illegal trafficking, physical abuse of tigers, false marketing and no end of troubling animal welfare concerns.
Itís not just tigers, though: elephants, bears, lions, monkeys, snakes and lizards are all common photo props, especially in Asia, Africa and South America, and often in so-called sanctuaries.
Kinder Ways To Show Your Love For Wildlife
If youíre planning on taking a trip, then there are ways you can enjoy wildlife without contributing towards animal suffering.
Research your destination and proposed excursions before you travel, and check your tour itinerary to ensure that it doesnít contain attractions that might involve animal exploitation. If it does, then take a stand and refuse to be involved.
Check licenses of any animal establishments you do visit to ensure they meet internationally recognized welfare standards, and donít be afraid to ask how the money is spent. Organizations that are passionate about conserving and protecting wild animals will not engage in activities that harm the animals they are caring for, or put visitors in dangerous situations.
If you do happen to witness any abuse, then report what you see and spread the word to fellow travelers so they too can avoid such places.
Tourist activities that exploit animals only continue because tourists choose to support them. You have a choice. Reject cruel practices in favor of positive ones and help to make the world a kinder place for animals.
Photo Credit: Avatarmin