Monthly Archives: April 2018
Lizaene and I were asked to be on a panel discussion at this year’s World Travel Market in Cape Town, and the topic we were asked to cover was the impact tourism and the tourism stakeholders have on the topic of animal welfare and the wildlife industry. We were excited to share our visions and below you can read our appeal to the public.
When it comes to interaction with wildlife, people often debate and focus on the physical deed itself and not the whole cycle. The questions asked are: Why is it wrong to interact with a tame wildlife? Is it ethical or not?
When interaction is offered to tourists and volunteers the first crucial and immediate aspect is safety – both for human and animal. Tame wild animals are still wild animals with instincts and the only way for them to say “NO” or “ENOUGH” is to attack. This can lead to humans being injured or even killed as we have seen many more incidences over the last past years, and it leaves the animal with a very unsecure and uncertain future. It also triggers one of the biggest animal welfare questions: Is it in the best interest of the animal to be interacted with?
Secondly it is the cycle that the animal is put through in order for it to be tame to be interacted with. The cubs are taken away from their mothers only a couple of days old, which is a huge health risk for the cubs and tremendously stressful and traumatizing for the cubs and the mother. This action forces the mother into her next breeding cycle way to soon and this is totally unnatural for her. Females in the wild have litters every two to three years on average, but in captivity they breed them up to three times a year with severe health implications and only to have more cubs for interaction.
Thirdly it is what happens to the animal when it is too big, old or dangerous to interact with. Some end up back into the same cycle as the parents, one of excessive breeding which often includes bad animal welfare practises. Others end up in wildlife trading, sold to non-ideal captive projects, killed for their body parts, or end up as a trophy selfie on Facebook on a wall somewhere. At point or another along this cycle the animal is negatively impacted and harmed either emotionally, physically or mentally and that we cannot be blind too. The interaction cycle also influences and impacts human/animal equality as when the animals are excessively bred, cubs taken away from their mothers, hand reared for interact with, sold, killed or hunted we put ourselves above the animal and make the choice for them. We enforce our will onto them. This becomes a situation of no respect, no consideration and no love for another being. It is then a clear exploitation, money and ego driven deed/industry.
The problem is that all of these unethical practises – pre and post interaction – are hidden from volunteers and tourists, many times deliberately by a range of tourism service providers. When the tourists and volunteers discover the truth, it is a huge shock follow by disgust and sadness. I know all about this feeling of shock, disgust and sadness because I have been through it myself. (Lizaene ends)
Indirectly, tourism stakeholders actually have the biggest impact on animal welfare – meaning that tour operators, marketing agencies, volunteer agencies, everyone who has promoted or sold a petting/interaction experience, walking with a big cat, volunteer package to one, ten or even thousands of tourists, have all one way or another unknowingly contributed to the upkeep of the industry Lizaene has just described.
It hurts to hear it and actually know that you have been a part of this canning industry. I sure know that feeling as a I was a previous volunteer, fooled by the marketing propaganda of a volunteer agency and the nice sounding words of “breeding to release”, paying large amounts to be with lions that the majority now are killed for the bone trade. The truth sticks deeps and that is what thousands of people feel after having found out what they actually have been a part of. The tourism industry has kept this dreadful industry alive for decades – and I believe its time to take the stand and roar the truth with the power of a lion! The big cat industry has been kept alive by “us”, so it can also change with the help of “us”.
The biggest challenges facing this captive big cat industry are the lack of awareness, and that there is great confusion about the grey zones, lacking a united stand from the responsible captive wildlife projects. Many tourism stakeholders from all over the world are making contact with the leading tourism organisations asking them “Where do we go? Which are the right places to send our clients to?” They are terrified to make the wrong choices as they know the damage this will make for their business and the brand of South Africa. I strongly believe that in order to make a significant shift in the direction of ethical practises, and really direct the power of tourism towards a sustainable and animal welfare based industry, we need to make it extremely simple and clear for the general public, volunteers and all the other stakeholder to fully understand.
We, Panthera Africa, live by the three simple guidelines, which everyone can follow in order to be 100% sure that you are supporting the “right” big cat projects regardless of species – No breeding, no trading and no public interaction of any sort. There is no room for grey-zones at the moment – even though there always are. But how the situation is right now, I am afraid people don’t understand the difference.
What I believe we all can agree on is that we want our clients and all tourists to have a fantastic feel-good experience here in South Africa, and of course also for them to return! People are becoming more conscious and wanting to make the right choices, and in order for that to happen people need to be educated! And this is where all tourism stakeholders come in – you and me – we have a responsibility to make it clear, easy and also care for all of South Africa – both nature, animals and people. Imagine a tourism industry, world wide, where we all are ambassadors for a sustainable future and through our different businesses we strive forward towards a brighter tomorrow for everyone involved – the animals included.
I want to finish off with one of my favourite sayings by Margaret Mead: “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have”. (Cathrine ends)
Share our vision and message, and let us create a brighter tomorrow for everyone in the tourism industry – both people, nature and our beloved animals!
Cathrine S. Nyquist – April 2018
On Wednesday night I had the incredible experience of being in the presence of the Kings and Queens of the world, the holders of sacred wisdom and the keepers of the ancient knowledge.
I received an invitation to eat supper with Pardus the beautiful black leopard and the rest of the pride and of course Cathrine. I have spent a little time with Pardus before, during the day but at dusk these creatures come alive. The pure energetic connection to what resonates for me as joy, playfulness and connectedness was almost palatable. In between beautiful conversations and being the observer of the incredible connection that these two ladies have was one of the most moving evenings of my life. Because at dusk the echoes and the calls that vibrate around you are felt through your entire body. Pardus for me holds the key to finding the joy, softness and almost mystery of being a woman. At first sight she appears totally black but when she allows you a sneak peek in the glistening sunlight she revels to you her hidden beauty of being dark brown with gorgeous chestnut and auburn markings. Making it ever mysterious that we are far more than we could ever imagine- the gift she holds out for us.
As the sun set slowly the lions and other animals start their calling. The deep vibrating messages echoing across the mountains. We moved on to sit in the presence of the Obi and Oliver. Obi is a split lion and Oliver is a white lion. As we sat observing each other and surrendering to each other within the space of 2m apart, face to face, being to being, heart to heart. The two lions in front of us joined the roars of beautiful Neptune and callings of Pardus. Each time I experience the roaring of these magnificent creatures there is something deep within me that breaks wide open. My heart literally opens ups and the tears flow. It is so challenging to even try and put the experience into words as it is something that you feel deep within you.
A knowing of ancient pathways being connected and healing that is able to take place deep within and flowing of what is, what was and the promise of what will be just appeared before me. The stare of the lion in the dim dusk light that sees you for who you are and feels you and that is unimaginable to describe. Their vibrations that literally shift your energetic vibration, feeling almost like they penetrate through your body, giving the gift of the mysteries of life, the simple act of being. The courageous brave lion heart that we all have….the being that has been hurt and abused by man so graciously allows me into their space and offers nothing more than what is and between the connection nothing other than beauty exists.
We moved on to sit with the ever majestic Neptune. This time together almost indescribable to explain, one that I have experienced during that day before that was so amazing. The calling of the ever King of the land seems to always summon the other lions to add to the collective vibration of “in unity there is strength” and in that connectedness is a given. He sits strong and upright watching, listening, feeling you. His gorgeous blue eyes gently caressing your heart. When we arrived he blessed me with the first calling that echoed deep within me, the tears flowed and the divine being and energy he is gently gazed allowing me to rest a while, holding something deep within safe and sacred. Sitting quietly together in the darkness with Neptune I felt a presence and out the corner of my eye was Oliver watching us, observing us about 2 m away in the other camp, just like a shadow appearing out of nowhere. Just there watching……not sure how long he had been there for?
The ever energy and spirit of true courage and strength exists within the lion presence. The symbol of mastering of your emotions the kingdom within and the aligning of your own outer and inner kingdoms is echoed and the gift that is given through those echoes is the gift of healing. The summoning of the keepers of the night the protectors of our souls and the honouring of the setting sun that allows mother earth to grow and warm our souls.
A piece of my heart will forever echo through your calls, through the roar in the dusky night that night.
Kathryn, 12 March 2018