A fascinating aspect of travelling comes not only through the sites seen, and people met but also through the wildlife encountered. The animals who inhabit travelled areas contribute to the environmental uniqueness of that part of the world. Travellers should expect to come across new and unfamiliar wildlife wherever the destination and be aware of the appropriate way to respond.
Jako Hall, a well-seasoned traveller and explorer, says that he has observed all kinds of ecosystems in his endeavours. During his Mount Kilimanjaro climb, he saw Blue Monkeys, Bushbabies, Jackson’s chameleons, and many other native animals in their natural environment. To help prepare other travellers for wildlife encounters, Hall highlights the best ways to observe animals whilst travelling responsibly.
Know Before You Go
Travellers who want an adventure that includes wildlife tourism should research further to avoid problematic wildlife experiences and support more ethical engagements. According to a feature story in National Geographic magazine titled “Suffering unseen: The dark truth behind wildlife tourism,” it can be particularly challenging for visitors of national parks, zoos, and other wildlife tourism places to decipher how to properly and humanely observe animals. When checking out what facilities are open to visitors, people can use the “five freedoms” to determine how captive animals, if any, are treated.
The “five freedoms” are understood as international standards for promoting animal welfare and include freedom to convey normal behaviour and freedom from hunger, malnutrition and thirst; exposure and discomfort; injury, disease, and pain; and distress and fear. These standards are a solid platform to use when forming a personal opinion on wildlife tourism facilities.
Sustainable travel experts warn tourists to stay away from elephant treks as they are often too exhausting for the elephants. Ethical Elephant Experiences, launched by Trunks & Leaves, is committed to spreading the awareness and importance of sustainable and ethical travellers and how participating in responsible tourism can provide excellent benefits. The organisation helps travellers make responsible wildlife viewing decisions by providing the necessary resources and tools. Trunks & Leaves shares wildlife viewing tips that include avoiding hands-on experiences and keeping a distance of at least twenty meters when viewing wildlife.
Another good reference for travellers to consider while assessing facilities is David J. Mellor’s Updating Animal Welfare Thinking: Moving beyond the “Five Freedoms” towards “A Life Worth Living” and the updated characterisation of the principal features of animal welfare. The author communicates a more modernised perspective developing beyond the “five freedoms” to explain an evolving idea in animal welfare science on acceptable and unacceptable ways of treating animals.
How to Safely and Respectfully Watch Wildlife
No matter where you go, you never know when you will encounter wildlife. Regardless of where you choose to travel, it is always good to look up what types of animals reside in the area. If you are visiting a national park, research to see what specific guidelines you should follow, if any, to stay safe.
About Jako Hall
Jako Hall is an experienced mariner and a former naval officer known for his strong work ethic and ability to lead and motivate crews. He pursued Maritime Studies at the University of Technology in Cape Town and has received the highest level of training in Navigation and Seamanship during his years in the Navy. After 13 distinguished years in the Navy, Jako joined the superyacht industry, following his passion for creating unique and exclusive experiences for high-net-worth clients. He’s managed multi-million euro projects that required attention to detail and efficiency and has a proven track record of operating at sea in remote and unsupported areas.