The pandemic has not just halted travel, it has changed the way we travel. We’ve never been more aware of the need to prevent animal exploitation for the health of our planet and people. Indeed, the links between humans, animals and the health of our planet have never been more clear. But what exactly can the tourism industry do to promote this way of thinking?
In order to prevent future crises, we must globally make a change to our behaviour and priorities. The tourism sector has the opportunity to harness this pause, in order to re-focus efforts in sustainable travel and establish itself as an industry leader in non-consumptive practices. In order to be truly sustainable, one thing is clear, we must put animal welfare on the global agenda.
FOUR PAWS South Africa’s Country Director, Fiona Miles, uses one of the country’s most iconic species and the subsequent influence it has felt from the tourism industry, to illustrate the relationship between animal welfare, tourism and global health. We will focus on South Africa’s captive lions, as this continues to be a controversial topic. Today, the country’s captive population of around 12,000 is over three times the size of its wild population. These animals are subjected to a life of cruelty, where they are exploited for tourists and voluntourism through cub-petting, bottle feeding, ‘walking with’ opportunities and as photo props, before being sold to the canned trophy hunting industry. With lions globally vulnerable to extinction, this is now a topic of high national and international priority.
The recent decision by the South African Government announcing the banning of the use of captive bred lions and their derivatives is a significant step forward, but there is a long road ahead. Businesses each have the opportunity to lead in the international sector of compassionate and ethical tourism, by moving away from the consumptive use and practices of wildlife. Our session will serve to highlight, aid and discuss the practical solutions to allow it to do just that.
Fiona Miles is the Country Director of the Animal Welfare Organization, FOUR PAWS in South Africa. She is one of the leading women in South Africa fighting for more humanity towards animals. With her strong affinity for animals and nature as a youngster, she studied towards a BSc-degree in Zoology and Botany – which set the path for her career in animal welfare.
Since joining FOUR PAWS in South Africa in 2006 and successfully establishing and managing the LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary project, FOUR PAWS has become one of the leading animal welfare organization in South Africa.
She’s the force behind major campaigns in the country, including the drive to stop Canned Lion Hunting in South Africa. Except for being involved with most of the big cat transfers to South Africa and education programs, she’s also been part of negotiations in 2009 to rescue elephants in Zimbabwe, who were relocated to Hwange National Park (Zimbabwe) after the efforts were successful.
Most of Fiona’s efforts are put into raising public and political awareness for animal welfare issues whilst growing the organisation’s country profile, to ultimate fund all the projects of FOUR PAWS in South Africa. She has formed strategic partnerships with other organisations to amplify the reach and effectiveness of campaigns, but also to help advocate for quick and effective improvements in the lives of animals.