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Open Invitation To The Travel Industry

Tourism Tattler supports the following Open Invitational letter initiated by Chris Mercer and Bev Pervan of the Campaign Against Canned Hunting (CACH) and urges readers to support this initiative. The Code of Practice suggestion noted in the five point plan is desperately needed and it is up to you, as the custodians of responsible tourism in, and to,  Southern Africa to lead the way. Editor.

We are going to lose our wildlife heritage unless civil society acts decisively to fill the void left by a largely dysfunctional conservation structure throughout Southern Africa (SA).

The travel industry is in a unique position to influence the behaviour of tourists. It can help to make tourist dollars a force for good in SA by encouraging ethical spend.

Most people now know how Lion farmers externalise the cost of rearing their cubs to huntable size by using the cubs for cub-petting and by Walk with Lions experiences. Every cub petted now will suffer a miserable life in captivity, until a cruel death brings relief.

We all know too that SA lion farms are a massive and growing threat to the extinction of wild lions. Whistle blowers have come forward in Botswana, telling how they chase wild lion prides to the point of exhaustion, using 4 x 4 vehicles, and how they shoot as many adults as necessary in order to capture the cubs for sale to unscrupulous lion farmers in SA.

And now we have the growing lion bone trade, featured in South Africa’s Carte Blanche and 50/50 TV programmes recently. The investment of Asian crime syndicates in the new lion bone trade means that we can predict an inevitable surge in the poaching of wild lions for their bones.

We cannot leave it all to SA conservation authorities, which are collapsing; indeed, some governmental structures are now incapable of even basic record keeping. This ghastly business must be stopped.

We suggest a five point plan:

  1. Agree a Code of Practice that will reward ethical destinations and penalise facilities such as lion farms that pass themselves off as wildlife sanctuaries in order to attract tourists.
  2. The entire travel and tourism industry must adhere to the Code of Practice.
  3. The Code will spell out how to discourage tourism to any facility that offers cub petting. Agents may hand out a pamphlet explaining why, if the client argues the point.
  4. Educate volunteers to avoid lion farms posing as wildlife sanctuaries. The presence of cubs is decisive.
  5. CACH undertakes to educate travel industry members with presentations in major centres, both in SA and overseas.

The stakes could hardly be higher. Let us join together and put a stop to canned lion hunting and at the same time help to save our wild lion populations from regional extinction.

What we have lost is nothing compared to what we will lose, and the travel agencies have a particular responsibility towards the survival of wildlife in SA. So let us not waste any time. CACH are always prepared to educate, discuss, hand out brochures and engage with travel industry players to hammer out a good Code of Practice.

Chris Mercer and Bev Pervan

(Co-authors of Kalahari Dream and For the love of Wildlife)

Campaign Against Canned Hunting, Sec 21 NGO – www.cannedlion.org

To participate in compiling the Code of Practice regarding lion cub petting, email info@cannedlion.org

Further reading on this subject can be found on the Tourism Tattler website at:

  1. March Cover Story – www.tourismtattler.com/?p=11508
  2. March for Lions – www.tourismtattler.com/?p=11693
  3. March for Lions – A Roaring Success – www.tourismtattler.com/?p=12437