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Captive Elephant Welfare Initiative

Elephants in captivity are an ethical concern in the tourism industry. The rapid growth in tourism’s demand for interaction with elephants across Asia coupled with inadequate government regulations has resulted of poor treatment of these animals in many of the elephant facilities. Other facilities however are working in compliance with the best achievable practices in close partnership with elephant experts and universities. Up to date no international accepted standard and related assessment system was existing. The so-called Elephant Camp Animal Welfare Standard and Assessment initiative aims to recognise the better camps and to motivate those not yet complying towards better animal welfare.

Elephants in Asia

With over 3000 years of captive elephant history and given that there are over ten thousand captive elephants in Asia it is important to establish scientific facts, respect local culture and lay down solid foundations that ensure the welfare of captive elephants as well as their traditional mahouts.

Despite calls for action from various animal rights groups, their approach is often not based on scientific facts, does not engage mahouts and elephant (family) business, does not present achievable solutions nor looks at long term sustainability and the survival of the species as such.

We believe responsible tourism encouraging elephant experiences of the highest standard is the most immediate, viable solution. We believe by engaging stakeholders to seek holistic improvements and setting standards across the industry, more can be done to protect elephants than by staging boycotts or signing pledges. Hard work and hard choices based on scientific facts, balancing the interest of individual Elephants, the mahouts, and the conservation of the Asian Elephant, are required by all involved.

Leading Asian tour operators with support of Travelife for Tour Operators, the Asian Captive Elephant Working Group (ACEWG) and PATA have therefore initiated a process to establish a widely supported set of standards and criteria as a guideline and reference for elephant camps. The Elephant Camp Animal Welfare Initiative will provide tour operators as well as their clients the ability to make an informed, ethical choice

Information meeting for Thai Elephant camp owners and managers (August 2017)

The standard

The standard is based upon international animal welfare and sustainability principles including the Asian Captive Elephant Working Group (ACEWG) principles for captive elephants. The standards have also been subject to consultation from individual elephant experts from various disciplines (e.g. elephant veterinarians, mahouts, behavioural experts, biologist, animal learning experts, researchers). Based on a careful process a final draft of the standard was reached in 2017. The standard includes more than 160 criteria divided over 7 themes and 24 subthemes and provides detailed guidelines for the camps as well as the external assessor covering not only the elephants but also the staff, mahouts, sustainable business practices and the relation with the local communities. Elephant camps that comply with the highest of standards treat their elephants in the best possible manner and are committed towards a process of permanent improvement. The scientific based guidelines cover, for example cruelty free learning science based training techniques, closely monitored and regulated working hours, rest periods throughout the day – ideally in a forested area to socialize, bathe and relax and more. Responsible camps have veterinarians on staff, and/or provide regular health checks. Elephants are not tied up with chains of lengths less than 2 metres for prolonged periods of time. Good camps work with local communities providing jobs, marketing local handicrafts and purchasing local supplies to ensure everyone benefits. Camps promoting best practices also actively support and engage in research and conservation projects protecting animals in the wild.

Any interactions between elephants and tourists are based on scientific standards and do not compromise the welfare of the elephants or endanger humans. Most importantly, all good camps register their elephants with the relevant government department, complete with DNA testing to ensure no wild stocks are being captured and added to the captive population. The assessment is designed to ensure standards set by leading experts are being met and improved.

Currently more than 30 elephant facilities from Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Malaysia and Indonesia have enrolled in the program and are under assessment. They are committed to improvements to comply with the standard.

Supporting tour operators
The initiative is supported by a growing number of Asian tour operators including:.

When you travel with the tour operators supporting this initiative you can be assured that any elephant experience suggested is being held to the highest of international standards and practices. In this way we believe we are effectively contributing to the protection and preservation of elephants in Asia.

The destination management companies (DMCs) and tour operators involved in this initiative will also no longer work with any elephant camp that refuses to be audited or assessed as complete transparency is needed in all aspects of the operations to gauge and ensure responsible practices are indeed in place. Thus financial gains are directed to those working on improving and ensuring the long term welfare of their captive elephants and staff and not to those operating unethically or purely for profit or under false (animal welfare) pretences.

So yes, elephants in captivity is an ethical concern under current circumstances but by working together and using tourism as a powerful tool in the right way, we can ensure the long-term quality if life of thousands of captive elephants throughout Asia and provide clients with an inspiring experience, whilst improving the lives of all involved and preserving local culture and heritage.

Animal welfare auditor and advisor training (Chiang Mai, August 2017)

For more information please contact:

PATA Sustainability: ssr@PATA.org
Travelife for Tour Operators: info@travelife.info
Asian Captive Elephant Working Group: http://acewg.org

Resources

http://sustain.pata.org/interview-dr-andrew-mclean-human-elephant-learning-program/

Statement

http://sustain.pata.org/captive-elephant-welfare-initiative/

http://acewg.org/news/

www.travelife.info/index_new.php?menu=projects&lang=en

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(Credit: World Wildlife Day – The poster was created by Jerry LoFaro, Mohammed Elnour and Patrick George)

 

This year’s World Wildlife Day on March 3 is the purr-fect opportunity to show your love for big cats – the endangered predators fighting to survive in Africa, Asia, and North, Central and South America. These majestic creatures are at risk be-claws of many and varied threats, that are mostly caused by human activities. Big cats include not only lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars – the four largest wild cats that can roar – but also cheetahs, snow leopards, pumas, and clouded leopards.

UN World Wildlife Day celebrates and raises awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants – this day was proclaimed in 2013 as the day of signature the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Please paws for a moment and spend some time to learn about these charismatic and admired animals across the globe. Purr-haps, you would like to participate in an event taking place in your country.

The official World Wildlife Day websites shares furry cool and creatives ideas on how to get involved, or choose one of our favourite ideas:

  1. Bring the World Wildlife Day to your office talk to your co-workers about the day during lunch time. Speak up and share your knowledge, passion and questions about wildlife conservation with your co-workers, friends, family and community – either in person or online. For inspiration on spreading the word via social media, have a look at this social media kit.
  2. Use your talent to show your support in the conservation of big cats and inspire the world. For example, check out the amazing sand art created by an Indian sand artist for last year’s World Wildlife Day. Your own creativity is the only limit!
  3. Watch and share the official outreach video for World Wildlife Day 2018 or hold a screening of wildlife films. Check out this page, if you are interested in hosting the screening of the winning film of this year’s International Big Cats Film Festival.

It’s time to take cat-ion and help the un-fur-tunate predators meow!

#WorldWildlifeDay #BigCats #PredatorsUnderThreat #WWD2018 #DoOneThingToday #iProtectBigCats

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Supporters of an ivory ban protest outside the Legislative Council in Hong Kong, China January 31, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

“We now need to see all other countries close loopholes that still allow the illegal trade of ivory to continue.”

Lawmakers in Hong Kong voted to ban all ivory sales in the territory on Wednesday, a move environmentalists hailed as a definitive measure to help curb elephant poaching.

The policies represent a massive step forward in the fight against elephant poaching across Africa and in parts of Asia, where the animals are slaughtered for their tusks. Environmentalists estimate more than 33,000 elephants are killed every year to help feed the demand for ivory, which is seen as a status symbol in some Asian countries.

Countries including Thailand and Vietnam are now the largest remaining markets for the ivory trade, and officials are calling on more sweeping bans to be instituted around the globe.

Read the full article here.

By Nick Visser for the HuffPost.

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People enjoying elephant ride in Chitwan National Park, on Saturday. Photo: THT

Amid increased activism by global animal rights activists against elephant ride, jungle safari operators based in Chitwan and Nawalparasi have demanded that the government come up with a regulations with minimum conditions to be fulfilled for using elephants for tourism and wildlife conservation.

Stating that elephant is a crucial part of Nepal’s wildlife tourism and conservation, they said banning their use completely would have an adverse impact on tourism, which is one of the major contributors to the national economy. At the same time, it would also hamper conservation efforts, and put at risk the livelihood of elephants in captivity.

According to elephant safari operators, tourism also provides livelihood to elephants in captivity. They say these elephants are not only earning money for the tourism business, they are ahelso earning for themselves.

Read the full article about the jungle safari operators’ demand for regulations here.

By Himalayan News Service for The Himalayan Times.

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A tourist in Brazil prepares to take a photo of a sloth being held up for the image. Photograph: Fernando Carniel Machado/World Animal Protection

Research by World Animal Protection in Brazil and Peru has revealed rise in photos with wild animals on Instagram, as well as growing instances of cruelty, and is launching a Wildlife Selfie Code

Some of the Amazon’s most endangered creatures are under threat from the growing trend of tourists taking “wild animal selfies”, according to a new investigation by the charity World Animal Protection released this week.

Selfies with animals has become a trend in recent years, with a 292% increase in the number of images posted to Instagram from 2014 to present. However, behind the scenes animals are kept in cruel conditions with many dying soon after being snatched from their natural habitat.

Read the full article on the ‘Wildlife Selfie Code’ here.

By Will Coldwell for The Guardian.

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Photographer: Wayne Lawrence for Bloomberg Businessweek

A mahout, wearing the traditional mohom outfit—denim, red neckerchief, and yellow straw hat—sits atop an elephant at Anantara.

Anantara Golden Triangle in northern Thailand is one of the only places where you can ethically interact with the country’s elephants.

 

I’m half-submerged in the Mekong River—the watery border that ­separates Laos from Thailand and Myanmar—sitting atop a big-eared, pink-spotted, 3-ton elephant named Poonlarp. Her skin looks soft from a distance, but it’s much coarser up close, covered in inch-long bristles. Her gait, which at first gives the appearance of flowing-through-honey movement, feels wobbly up this high. She’s alternately headstrong and playful. If you’ve ever walked a large, stubborn dog, you have an idea what it’s like to ride an elephant. This is the ­bucket-list item that brings people here to Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort.

 

Read more about ethically interacting with elephants at the Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort here. 

 

 

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How to enjoy the coral reefs responsibly

Categories: Green Tips, Planet, Sea, Wildlife
Comments Off on How to enjoy the coral reefs responsibly

Credit: Shutterstock

 

Coral reefs are part of the most beautiful ecosystems on our planet. They attract many tourists worldwide, and, in many developing countries, the local community is highly dependent upon tourism generated by divers and snorkellers visiting the reefs.

 

Not only are the reefs extremely beautiful but they are also very important as they are home to numerous marine species and protect us from storms and floods.

 

Sadly the coral reefs are degrading every day because of unsustainable tourism. Diving and snorkelling are extremely popular and are the main cause of reef degradation with fins being the most damaging.

 

Dive and snorkel operators as well as tourists must act responsibly when visiting our planet’s reefs. Here are some basic tips to remember:

 

  1. Do not touch the coral

 

Coral is to be admired from a distance. Coral is alive and touching it can damage it. It can also be dangerous as some corals sting to protect themselves. Don’t remove a piece of coral to take home with you and never buy coral souvenirs. It can take 15 years to grow one centimetre of coral.

 

  1. Swim with care

 

When diving or snorkelling, make sure that you keep your distance and swim horizontally in order to prevent stepping on the reefs. If you are not a confident diver or snorkeller you should practice first in an area without coral reefs  

 

  1. Never leave your rubbish on the beach.

 

Rubbish discarded on beaches can be dragged into the ocean as the tide recedes. This is highly damaging to coral and the fish living amongst the reefs.

 

  1. Spread the word

 

Create awareness and explain to others how we may enjoy the beauty of our reefs without damaging them. For diving and snorkelling centres, make sure the tourists are briefed and know how to dive and snorkel responsibly.

 

Learn more about responsible diving and snorkelling from our Sustainability Partner, Reef-World.  

 

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How to communicate about plastic and the seas around us

World Oceans Day was first ratified at the UN General Assembly on December 5, 2008 when June 8 was designated as the annual day for this celebration. The theme for this year is ‘Our Oceans – Our future’.

Today, for World Oceans Day, we are highlighting ideas about how to communicate effectively with your colleagues and your customers about the massive dangers associated with the accumulation of plastic waste. Sadly, we still have so much plastic in our oceans.

 

  1. Be inspiring

Inspire customers and business partners by showcasing durable and reusable solutions that are healthier for our communities and oceans. Inspire your community by showing people gathering together to clean up beaches. It’s important to personalise your message in order to stir emotions and inspire reactions to this pressing global problem.

 

  1. Show how animals or communities are hurt by plastic

Explain the linkage between marine well-being and plastic pollution. Plastic in our oceans has serious health and economic consequences

 

  1. Be proactive

Start an initiative such as lobbying for a ban on plastic bottles and containers at your local beach or park. Engage your community and encourage your colleagues, friends and neighbours to consider their individual environmental footprints. Community presence not only builds your brand image but it also helps to boost morale within your organisation. Read more about community involvement and going green here.

Visit the website PlasticOceans to learn more about plastic pollution in the oceans.

 

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Credit: Shutterstock

 

Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism

 

This theme has been chosen to coincide with the observance of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in its Resolution 70/193 and for which the United Nations World Tourism Organization is providing leadership.

Biodiversity, at the level of species and ecosystems, provides an important foundation for many aspects of tourism. Recognition of the great importance to tourism economies of attractive landscapes and a rich biodiversity underpins the political and economic case for biodiversity conservation. Many issues addressed under the Convention on Biological Diversity directly affect the tourism sector. A well-managed tourist sector can contribute significantly to reducing threats to, and maintain or increase, key wildlife populations and biodiversity values through tourism revenue.

Tourism relates to many of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets. For some Targets (for example 5, 8, 9, 10 and 12) this is primarily about ensuring greater control and management to reduce damage to biodiversity from tourism. For others (1, 11, 15, 18, and 20) this is about pursuing the positive contribution of tourism to biodiversity awareness, protected areas, habitat restoration, community engagement, and resource mobilization. A further dimension is the better integration of biodiversity and sustainability into development policies and business models that include tourism, thereby supporting Aichi Biodiversity Targets 2 and 4.

Celebration of the IDB under this theme therefore provides an opportunity to raise awareness and action towards the important contribution of sustainable tourism both to economic growth and to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Furthermore, the theme also provides a unique opportunity to contribute to ongoing initiatives such as the Sustainable Tourism Programme of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns and to promote the CBD Guidelines on Biodiversity and Tourism Development.

We invite Parties and organizations that have already initiated national plans for activities to celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity to keep the Secretariat informed of such plans and other noteworthy activities organized by NGOs or other organizations so that they may be included in these pages.

Read the notification here.

By the Convention on Biological Diversity

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White rhinos graze on a ranch belonging to John Hume, one of the rhino farmers who sued to overturn South Africa’s ban on the domestic sales of rhino horn. PHOTOGRAPH BY WALDO SWIEGERS, BLOOMBERG/GETTY

 

It will soon be legal to buy and sell rhino horn within South Africa. The country’s constitutional court dismissed an application to appeal from the government to keep a ban on the trade in place, the South African government confirms.

This ends a lengthy legal battle that pitted rhino owners, who farm rhinos like livestock and want to be able to sell their reserves of rhino horn once again, against the government’s Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), which placed a moratorium on the trade in 2009 after a jump in poaching. Lower courts have sided with the rhino farmers, but the ban remained in place as the government’s appeal worked through the courts. Knowing that it may lose, the government began preparing for legalization earlier this year by issuing new draft regulations to govern the trade. They say that anyone with a permit will be able to buy and sell rhino horns and that foreigners will be allowed to export a maximum of two horns for “personal purposes.”

Read more on the legislation of rhino horn here.

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