When in Africa, it’s tempting to try and cross off as many bucket list encounters as possible. After all, it’s the trip of a lifetime. Why not make the most of it?
Personal wildlife interactions tend to be quite high up on the list for many travellers. Lion cub petting, walking with big cats and elephant rides are just a few examples of popular wildlife encounters. Sadly, these activities are all highly unethical and rely on the profits of misinformed tourists to keep them going.
It’s always important to do your research before supporting an organisation, but here a few basic tips for choosing ethical wildlife encounters:
• Any facility that breeds wild animals, and offers petting/touching, is not a sanctuary.
• Never ride an elephant. This is never ethical.
• Animals living in captivity should be kept in appropriate enclosures that mimic their natural environment and offer enrichment activities.
• Avoid all circuses that involve animals in their acts.
• Hands-off encounters that benefit both the wildlife and the public are an example of an acceptable activity e.g. reputable sanctuaries.
• Game drives and guided bush walks are a good example of non-intrusive ways to observe animals in the natural habitat.
Fortunately, however, awareness on the issue is spreading like a wonderful wildfire through the world and more and more travellers are starting to reject these unscrupulous activities in favour for more conservation based wildlife experiences.
Here are a few examples of ethical wildlife encounters to add to your bucket list:
When in full swing in East Africa, the Wildebeest Migration is an extremely exciting event to witness and can be done from the safety of a game vehicle.
Encountering the last remaining wild gorillas in Uganda, Congo or Rwanda is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding safari experiences in Africa. The treks are carefully managed and contribute directly to the conservation of these endangered animals and their rainforest habitats.
One of the cutest wildlife encounters there could be is watching baby turtles hatch. Kosi Bay in South Africa is one of the best places to witness this. While a sighting of the hatching can never be fully guaranteed, if you’re in the right place at the right time, watching baby sea turtles emerge from their eggs and escape to the ocean can be an amazing encounter.
If you would like to experience these incredible encounters or discuss what else you can do, get in touch with us!